SALT LAKE CITY — This time, there was no magic left in the night for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The last time the Wolves and Utah Jazz played, the Wolves literally danced off the Target Center court after the most improbable of victories.
This time, they flailed their arms in exasperation and trudged into a tunnel at Energy Solution Arena after a 111-105 overtime loss in which they lamented offensive rebounds and opportunity lost from a game they probably again had little business winning.
Six days after Ricky Rubio suffered a season-ending knee injury, the Wolves also collectively held their breath when two-time All-Star Kevin Love learned that his left thumb injured at the end of the third quarter was diagnosed as only a sprain.
Three weeks ago, the Wolves trailed Utah by 15 points with 8 minutes remaining and still prevailed thanks to a 30-13 finishing flourish and Luke Ridnour’s running floater at the buzzer.
On Thursday, they trailed by 12 points with less than 5 minutes left and yet made it as far as overtime after Nikola Pekovic tied the score with a putback basket with 0.7 seconds left and Utah forward Paul Millsap broke free for the winning basket at the buzzer but his sure-fire layup rolled around and off the rim.
In overtime, the Wolves three times led by a basket but surrendered the lead after making a defensive stop. They couldn’t get their hands on an offensive rebound and former Timberwolves center Al Jefferson scored on a putback basket of his own missed shot with 1:16 left. That started the Jazz on an 8-0 run to end the game.
The Jazz won the three-game season series 2-1, a potentially important tiebreaker distinction should the two teams fighting for the West’s eighth playoff spot end the season tied.
The Wolves watched a chance to start this seven-game, 13-day road trip with two consecutive victories slip away.
“We were a rebound, maybe two rebounds away from winning the game,” said Love, whose team allowed the Jazz to beat it on the offensive backboards 17-9. “It would have been nice to start the road trip off 2-0. This game meant a lot.”
Love played the final quarter with that thumb taped after he fell on it and came to the bench at third quarter’s end clutching it in pain. David Kahn, Wolves president of basketball operations, later called the pictures “normal.”
The Wolves called it a sprain and said Love is probable for Friday’s game against the Lakers in Los Angeles.
“At first, it scared me a little bit because I’ve broken this thumb a couple of times before, but it’s fine,” said Love, who has missed the past two games against the Lakers because he was ill and then because he had back spasms. “It’s just jammed, something that will subside hopefully in a couple days or hopefully tomorrow.”
The Wolves outscored the Jazz 13-3 in the final 3:02 of regulation time and then played five minutes more after Millsap’s wide-open layup off an in-bounds play with just those 0.7 seconds left somehow missed.
“We had a chance, we got lucky there at the end,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “I don’t know what we were thinking. He (Millsap) ran right by two guys, but we got lucky there and didn’t take advantage. I’d take a win anytime. If you win, you deserve to win, but they made plays to win it in overtime.”