The Timberwolves blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead in a loss to the Jazz on Tuesday, and if Utah’s players are to be believed, a Minnesota player celebrating a three-point shot is what gave the Jazz the extra motivation needed to claw their way back.
Shabazz Muhammad had a career-high 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting, and after knocking down a three to push the lead to seven with just over seven minutes remaining, did a “three goggles” celebration in front of the Utah bench.
Evidently, that didn’t sit too well with members of the Jazz.
From Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune:
“I didn’t see it,” [Jazz coach Quin Snyder] said when asked if Muhammad’s gesture helped give his squad some extra motivation. “I’m sure it might have.” …
“Yeah, we take that stuff personally,” admitted Jazz forward Derrick Favors, who scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the win, Utah’s fifth in its past seven games. “When he did that, I guess guys started taking it personally and it made us come out there and play harder.” …
“Something just clicked and we started rolling,” Trevor Booker said.
Was that something Muhammad’s gesture?
“I didn’t see it,” Booker said with a smile. “But ask him how the ‘L’ feels.”
If any of this is true — that the Jazz were indeed motivated by a relatively common on-court celebration — then that’s fairly pathetic.
The best way to stop a player from celebrating is to, you know, stop him from scoring. Muhammad made 10 of his 17 field goal attempts on the night, and was 5-of-6 from the field (including 3-of-3 from three-point distance) in the fourth quarter alone. He had reason to celebrate, because he couldn’t be stopped.
The Timberwolves are a bad team, and the Jazz haven’t been much better. Seeing them blow a double-digit fourth quarter lead isn’t really much of a surprise, but Utah’s claim of finding extra motivation in something so harmless should at least raise a few eyebrows.