Jazz notes: Bargnani presents a tough matchup
The Cleveland Cavaliers weren't the only NBA team deserted by an All-Star free agent last summer.
Like the Cavs, who lost LeBron James to Miami, Toronto's future was also compromised when Chris Bosh left and signed with the Heat.
Without Bosh, who averaged at least 22 points per game over the past five seasons, Toronto could struggle to reach the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Raptors are 1-2 so far, after squandering a 17-point lead and losing at Sacramento on Monday, 111-108.
Without Bosh, Toronto's undisputed star is Andrea Bargnani, who averaged 23.3 points a game last season.
Like Utah's Memo Okur, Bargnani is a seven-footer with an uncanny ability to shoot from the 3-point line.
Against Sacramento, Bargnani scored 28 points and was 3-for-6 on his 3-pointers.
Bargnani is a career 37-percent 3-point shooter.
"He's very good," said the Jazz's Andrei Kirilenko. " â¦ With his size and the ability he has being able to shoot the ball and drive the ball and dribble it it makes him a big force."
Kirilenko suggested that Bargnani was a combination of Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki and Phoenix' Channing Frye, but "even taller."
Asked about Bargnani, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said, "He really spreads the floor for them, and how do you guard him? With a small guy? With a big guy? You put a big guy on him, he's out there. And if you go small, he can post you up inside."
Jefferson on the rise
Utah's Al Jefferson comes off his best game with his new team.
In Sunday's 120-99 win over the Thunder, he scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Jefferson made 10 of 11 free throws and, in the third quarter, helped steady the ship by converting a 3-point play after Oklahoma City trimmed a 25-point deficit to 98-85.
Jefferson scored 12 points in the third quarter, including nine in the final 5:07.
"I felt when Oklahoma City decided to go small that we would score inside," he said. "Me or Paul [Millsap]."
Said Sloan, "We made it a simple play: get the ball inside to him because we felt like we had an opportunity score in there. And once we did that, we were OK."
Jefferson's 12 free throws were three more than he'd taken in the first two games.
Beyond Jefferson's scoring, Sloan liked his all-around game against the Thunder.
"He tried to pass the ball," Sloan explained. " ... And he tried to draw some charges, which is kind of unheard of in [the] NBA."
Evans still day-to-day
Rookie forward Jeremy Evans remains day-to-day with a right wrist that he sprained in the first half against the Thunder.
"I just got tangled up under the basket with a couple of guys," he said. "I just know by halftime it was hurting."
Mostly, Evans was disappointed because he got an early shot in the game after not playing in the Jazz's previous game.
"I was like, 'Man, come on. Not in a game I get to play in,'" Evans said.