Big Al fumes on Jazz's bench
Al Jefferson sat noticeably on the end of Utah's bench in the fourth quarter and overtime of a 100-95 loss to the lowly Washington Wizards on Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
When he stood during timeouts, he did so far from the team huddle, with his hands on his hips. When the buzzer sounded, he was the first off the bench and into the locker room. And when approached by the media following the defeat, he refused to comment, forcefully waving reporters off with his left hand.
Yes, it's rather obvious that Jefferson isn't a happy camper these days.
The Jazz center, and offensive centerpiece in the weeks since the Deron Williams trade, last played on Monday night with 54 seconds remaining in the third period. He spent the rest of the game on the pine as Utah's younger players, most notably rookie Derrick Favors, led a furious fourth-quarter rally to force the extra session.
Coach Tyrone Corbin, when asked if there's an issue, said that he simply thought the younger players had earned the right to finish. But Jefferson's reaction told a different story. In the past four games, he has issued three no-comments to reporters, along with being ejected from Saturday's game against the Dallas Mavericks.
"The young guys were playing well," Corbin said. "They played hard and I thought they deserved to be on the floor."
Even so, Corbin did eventually re-insert most of his starting lineup, sending Earl Watson and Paul Millsap back into the contest. Jefferson and Raja Bell, who sprained a foot in the third quarter and didn't return, were absent.
Favors had his best game in a Utah uniform, scoring 11 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking three shots. Most importantly, he brought energy, along with Jeremy Evans and Gordon Hayward, that the first unit didn't have in the first half.
"The young guys did a great job tonight," C.J. Miles said. "For them to play that well down the stretch was big for us."
Jefferson had good numbers against the Wizards, 15 points and 16 rebounds, including 10 boards in the first quarter. But there were large stretches in which JaVale McGee, Jefferson's man, dominated the paint. And Jefferson clearly had issues scoring against McGee's length and quickness.
McGee, who played at Nevada, had 11 points, a game-high 17 rebounds and three blocked shots, and he altered a number of other shots close to the rim.
"It would've been good to have Al on the floor in the overtime," Miles said. "But that's a coaching decision, and Derrick did a great job."
• Scored 15 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.
• Was benched in the fourth quarter and overtime periods.
• Refused to speak to reporters following the game.