As the final buzzer sounded and his teammates swarmed him on the court, Derrick Rose couldn’t help but fight back tears.
Rose’s emotions were on full display moments after he scored a career-high 50 points in a vintage performance that lifted the Minnesota Timberwolves over the Utah Jazz 128-125 on Wednesday.
Given everything he’s been through, it was a special night for the 2011 NBA MVP.
“It still didn’t even hit me yet,” he said. “Words can’t explain how I feel right now. It’s been a while.”
Derailed by injuries for years, Rose walked off serenaded by chants of “MVP! MVP!” from the home crowd. The 30-year-old point guard shot 19 of 31 from the field and hit four 3-pointers. He played 41 minutes, his most in nearly two years.
“He has courage, he has humility and he has character,” said Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau, who also coached Rose during his prime seasons in Chicago. “He’s been through a lot of adversity. He’s maybe one of the most mentally tough people I’ve ever come across.”
Rose had 34 points in the second half and 15 in a tightly contested fourth quarter as the Wolves held off the Jazz, who waived Rose in February after a two-day stint.
His basket down low with 30 seconds remaining put Minnesota up for good, and he made two free throws with 13.8 seconds left to make it a three-point lead.
“He made a lot of plays, made some tough shots,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We had some breakdowns, a little bit of everything.”
Jae Crowder and Joe Ingles each missed a 3-pointer that could have tied it for Utah. Rose then blocked a 3-point try by Dante Exum with 2.7 seconds to go, and the Timberwolves grabbed the loose ball to seal it.
Back in the locker room, excited teammates doused Rose in celebration.
One of his biggest shots was a corner 3 that tied the game at 119. That gave him 44 points, which matched his previous high set during the 2011 playoffs with the Bulls. His regular-season best had been 42 points.
Rose tied it at 110 with one of his patented layups, giving him 41 points. He weaved through traffic and made the off-balance shot, showing glimpses of the moves that once made him an elite player and the top pick in the 2008 draft.
“He was feeling great and when you start feeling great you get some extra energy, you get some extra adrenaline and you make amazing plays and that’s what he did the whole game,” Utah center Rudy Gobert said.
Making his first start of the season, Rose scored 19 points in the third quarter as the Timberwolves took a five-point lead into the fourth. Karl-Anthony Towns added nine of his 28 points in the period.
Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points and Gobert added 22 for Utah. Crowder provided 18 points off the bench.
Mitchell did not play in the final 4:22 because of right hamstring tightness and will be re-evaluated Thursday.
The Wolves put the Jazz on the free throw line plenty in the fourth quarter. After 11 attempts through three periods, Utah was 13 of 19 from the line in the fourth.
Minnesota played without All-Star Jimmy Butler, as well as point guards Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones. Butler sat out with what the team described as “general soreness.”
Butler, who has been the main story line in Minnesota for much of the early season due to his trade request, reportedly plans to play Friday at Golden State.
The Timberwolves got Andrew Wiggins back after he missed three games with a quadriceps injury. Wiggins had missed just one total game in his first four seasons before his recent setback. He scored 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting.
Jazz: G Alec Burks (left hand sprain) did not play. Burks also did not play Sunday at Dallas. … Utah is 4-1 on the road this season and 0-2 at home. … Gobert had his third straight game with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds.
Timberwolves: Thibodeau said Teague underwent an MRI but was awaiting more tests. Teague is day-to-day. … Jones was a late scratch with right foot soreness he experienced during warmups. … The Wolves debuted their “Classic Edition” jerseys, a throwback to the uniforms the team wore from 1996-2008.
Jazz: Host Memphis on Friday.
Timberwolves: Visit Golden State on Friday.
Mike Conley Jr. Removed From the Utah Jazz Starting Lineup Amid Slump
When the Memphis Grizzlies traded for Mike Conley Jr. in July, it appeared that he was the finishing piece that would put their roster over the top.
Conley was coming off a season with the Grizzlies in which he averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game as one of the best point guards in the NBA.
Utah expected him to be the perfect fit alongside All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt, but that hasn’t worked out as planned.
Now the Jazz have decided to make a move to spark their team after losing eight of their last 12 games by sliding Conley to the bench.
The move to add Royce O’Neale into the starting lineup is aimed to bolster the defense of that group, with O’Neale being the teams best perimeter defender.
By moving O’Neale to play with that unit, Joe Ingles can slid into the backcourt alongside Mitchell and take on a more prominent role on offense.
Ingles and Rudy Gobert are potent together in the pick and roll and taking the ball out of Conley’s hands with that starting group is aimed to help that pairing flourish as well.
On the other hand, Conley now moves to the bench, where he can form a really dynamic scoring punch with Jordan Clarkson.
Conley is averaging 13.4 points and a career-low 4.1 assists per game across 34 games played with the Jazz.
Next year will be the final season of a massive five-year, $152.6 million contract he signed with the Grizzlies. The Jazz are on the hook to pay Conley $34.5 million for the 2020-21 NBA season.
Hornets’ Guard Malik Monk Suspended Indefinitely for Violating Anti-Drug Policy
Malik Monk was in the middle of his pivotal third season in the NBA and was just hitting his stride with a recent hot streak.
Unfortunately that string of good play now comes to the end due to his conduct off the court, as Monk has been suspended indefinitely by the NBA for violating their anti-drug policy.
There is no indication what Monk has failed the test for, but he will need to follow the NBA’s program to be reinstated into the league.
Monk was the 11th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, after being the SEC Player of the Year in his lone season at Kentucky.
Since entering the league, Monk has struggled to find his footing and that same level of success, but he was just recently on a great run of scoring.
The suspension paired with his better play has led some to question whether it was performance-enhancing drugs that he was suspended for, although we don’t know that at this time.
When Deandre Ayton and John Collins were suspended this season, each received 25-game bans and were then able to return to the floor.
The substances they were suspended for were also announced to the public at the time of their suspensions.
The fact that we don’t know what he was suspended for, or how long of a suspension he will receive is certainly an interesting distinction when it comes to Monk.
It will be interesting to see what information comes out about Monk’s suspension in the coming days and if an actual timetable is put on his return.
Stephen Curry to Return to the Lineup on Sunday Against the Washington Wizards
The Golden State Warriors season essentially ended on October 30th, when an awkward fall resulted in a broken hand for Stephen Curry.
Curry has since been sidelined for four months and in his absence, the Warriors have gone 11-43 and sit with the wowarst record in the NBA.
Luckily things are about to get a lot better for Warriors fans, as Curry is set to return to lineup for Golden State on Sunday.
Adding a six-time All-Star, three-time champion and two-time MVP back into the starting lineup is sure to help the Warriors win a few more games down the stretch.
In the four games Curry played this year he shot 24% from three-point range, which is something he will look to clean up over the final games of this season.
Golden State has their eyes toward the future, looking to land a top lottery pick to their roster and incumbent Big Three of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
The Warriors have 25 games left this season and are four games behind the closest team for the worst record in the NBA.
As long as Golden State finishes with one of the three worst records in the NBA, they will have the best possible odds of winning the lottery. So Curry’s arrival should not hurt their position in that regard.
Instead Curry will bring some excitement to an ailing fan base, while building some chemistry with Andrew Wiggins and the other young Warriors that may be on the roster next season.
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