Marvin Williams could feel the bone digging into his Achilles tendon every time he got on his toes by the end of last season.
Coming off an injury-riddled year in Golden State, Richard Jefferson had started to wonder if his time in the league was drawing to a close.
“My back was not right,” he said. “I tore my calf at the beginning of the year. I was not a rotation player for the first time since I picked up a basketball.”
This time around, the two veteran forwards say they’re finally feeling healthy — and both were major contributors to the Jazz’s overtime win against the Bulls on Monday.
“Richard and Marvin did a tremendous job of keeping everybody going and focused on what we needed to do to close the game out,” coach Ty Corbin said.
After Chicago’s Luol Deng got his hands on a bad pass, leading to a breakaway dunk by Taj Gibson to cut the Jazz lead to two in the fourth, both veterans came through with big shots.
Williams scored a team-high 17 points, including a 3-pointer to tie the game 71-71.
With the Jazz down two a few minutes later, Jefferson was fouled and given continuation on his shot. His free throw put the Jazz up one.
In the game’s final seconds, Jefferson found himself matched up against Deng. He smothered the Chicago forward, forcing his would-be game-winner to fall short.
“I think he and I have kind of put that on our backs that we have to be there for these young guys and help them through tough times,” Williams said.
Good job, rook
Williams has been impressed with point guard Trey Burke’s play so far.
The rookie logged a career-high 34 minutes, scoring 14 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing four assists. Burke’s overtime 3-pointer proved to be one of the game’s biggest baskets.
“It was huge,” Williams said. “We watched the young guy when he was in college, and he did some of those things for his team in Michigan.”
Finding another way
Gordon Hayward still is frustrated by his shot, following a 5-of-15 performance against the Bulls. But the fourth-year swingman had a career high 12 assists and came four rebounds short of a triple-double in the victory.
“It’s frustrating still,” he said. “I’m kind of in a slump with the shot. But I can’t be worried about that. I’ve got to continue to be impactful in other parts of the game.”
Jazz vs. Suns
Friday, 7 p.m.
TV: ROOT Sports