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Jazz's Jefferson says seven-year wait for NBA playoffs is finally over

Published April 25, 2012 12:36 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Official postgame quotes following the Jazz's 100-88 win against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.Notes: Utah is now 72-85 all-time versus Phoenix and 50-29 in Salt Lake City … Jazz snap seven-game losing streak to Suns … Derrick Favors recorded five first half blocks, tying a career-high (previous high vs. Mil 1/3/12) … The Jazz current starting line-up is now 6-2 …The Jazz's Big Three all recorded double-doubles, Al Jefferson (31st), Paul Millsap (20th), Favors (13th) … Guard Gordon Hayward's eight assist tied his career-high (previous vs. Cle 1/10/12) … Jefferson left the game briefly at the 7:30 mark and received two stitches above his eye.Tyrone Corbin – Head Coach (35-30 this season)On making the playoffs"It sounds great, man. You know, it's a credit to these guys. The coaching staff did a great job. The assistant coaches were super in getting us ready for every game and the players responded to everything, the guys stayed together. It's a tremendous achievement for a group of guys that laid it out there every night. Whatever happened, good or bad, they stayed together. That's the most rewarding thing to see them be rewarded for all the hard work they put in."On everyone contributing to win"That's who we are. We need everybody that we have. The guys have been great all year supporting each other, making the right plays. I've changed the lineups and rotations at different times, the guys just come out and play and make the most of the minutes on the floor. We're going to need that to continue to get better"On the ups and downs of the season"One of the things that these players in this locker room always thought about, and we gave it to them early, was that you have to believe in yourself. As long as we stayed together, we played hard and we played smart, anything can happen. We continued to learn from our mistakes early, we came into work every day we had work to get better, we watched film. The guys really focused on things and communicated with each other what they had to do…as long as we continue to believe, regardless of what anyone else says, as long as the guys in that locker room believe in each other we'll be just fine."Derrick Favors – Forward (13 points, 11 rebounds)On the feeling of playing in the postseason"Everybody was excited; I was excited, we were happy. We worked all year for this. (Many experts) were down on us early in the year saying we weren't going to make the playoffs and we had to prove everybody wrong."On his performance"I just came out doing my part, playing my role. I just come out and play defense, rebound, and block shots and try and start the (fast) break."Devin Harris – Guard (14 points, 3 assists)On the win"I'm proud of the guys. It was a must-win situation tonight and the guys really responded (with) a full 48 minutes. It was a tough game for us, but I'm proud of the way the guys responded when our backs were against the wall. We came out fighting and we've got a great accomplishment (in making the playoffs), but we're not satisfied with this (win)."On the possible playoff opponent, San Antonio or Oklahoma City"They are both very good teams, they're one and two for a reason. San Antonio is playing really great right now and Oklahoma City speaks for themselves with deep playoff runs the last couple of years. We'll finish up this last game and focus on that and whoever we play we'll be ready to go."Paul Millsap – Forward (26 points, 15 rebounds)On making the playoffs"We've been fighting all year. We went out there and fought and we're going back to the playoffs and thank God for it. We worked hard for it."On the season as a whole"We battled through everything. Nobody expected us to be where we're at, but we're there now. Hopefully we're going to make some noise."Al Jefferson – Center (18 points, 16 rebounds)On how he feels about making the playoffs"Seven long years; seven long years since I have been in the playoffs. It's a blessing. It's a great opportunity to get here, a lot of people counted us out, nobody thought this team would be in a position to get in the playoffs, and we made it. It's a great group of guys and everyone on our team deserves it."On the growth of the team over the season"It was a long road. We started with short training camp, with a young team. We just stayed with it, Coach believed in us, we believed in ourselves, we got confidence and everybody just stepped up. It's just a wonderful feeling we worked real hard to get here. I'm just proud of all the guys and everybody who just stayed with it."On playing the biggest game of his career"(It) was. We won, so most definitely, it was a great game all the way through. I was really proud how we got the lead and once (Phoenix) made their run we didn't give up, it was such a good win. Anytime you can win to get into the playoffs is a good win. We've got a little more work to do, but it's a great feeling."Notes: They had won seven consecutive games against Utah coming into tonight, including four-straight in Salt Lake City … Channing Frye missed tonight's game with a subluxed right shoulder, the Suns were 1-4 without Frye last season … The Suns are 19-11 since the All-Star break, in the Western Conference only San Antonio (23-6), LA Lakers (21-10) and Memphis (20-10) have better records since the break … Marcin Gortat is averaging a career-high 15.7 points this season, he had 2 points tonight.Alvin Gentry – Head Coach (33-32 this season)On the game"We just got to play better. In a game like this you've just got to play better. We kept hanging around and then we got it to 73-74 and we had several opportunities to go ahead. We just didn't play very good tonight. You can't afford to not play well in a game like this. You've got to give them credit. At the end of the game, I thought Al (Jefferson) stepped up and Paul (Millsap) played well. They did a good job overall on our screen and rolls tonight I thought. They kind of took Marcin Gortat out of the game. We have to shoot the ball better from the perimeter. You know they outplayed us. In simple terms they deserved to win the game."On the Jazz playing Millsap at the three position"It's tough but you need to be able to punish them on the other end. Millsap is not accustomed to guarding the three man. Coming off screens and things like that you have to take advantage of that. We never really took advantage of that. So him being in the game on their offensive end becomes problematic because he is a post-up guy he can step outside and shoot jumpers. But then you alsohave Favors and Jefferson in there so rebounding wise we got really hurt on that."Marcin Gortat – Center (2 points, 12 rebounds)On his play"I am going to take the blame for that. I should finish stronger just played smarter and make the right decision. I was just rushing everything. My teammates were open on the wing I should have kicked it to the wing make sure they got the shot."On Al Jefferson"Quite sure we did a pretty good job on Al Jefferson in the first three quarters. All of a sudden in the fourth quarter he woke up and started scoring like crazy. That was probably the biggest problem in the last five minutes."Steve Nash – Guard (14 points, 11 assists)On falling out of playoff contention"It's tough. We found a way to put ourselves in this position. We started slow, no one gave us a chance when we were 12-19 and really didn't have any answers. It could have went the other way. I'm really proud of the coaches and the team. We hung in there and found a way to make it work together and gave ourselves a shot."On the game tonight"We didn't play great or deserve it tonight. We didn't shoot the ball well. We turned it over a little bit too much and their bigs gave us a real hard time. We didn't deserve it tonight. Without Channing (Frye) and Grant (Hill) it was just too much to ask. Would have liked to have played a little bit better, but we just didn't deserve it tonight."The Salt Lake TribuneTwitter: @tribjazz