NBA: Al Jefferson's second-quarter explosion sparks Utah Jazz past Washington Wizards
With the Jazz nursing a seven-point lead midway through the second quarter Friday night, coach Tyrone Corbin put Al Jefferson back in the game.
It was the beginning of the end for the Washington Wizards.
Jefferson scored 16 of his season-high 34 points in the final 5:41 of the first half, when the Jazz took command of an eventual 114-100 victory at EnergySolutions Arena.
In his previous two games, losses at New Orleans and Oklahoma City, Jefferson made only 13 of 33 shots and scored 29 total points.
Against Washington, however, he made 16 of 23 field-goal attempts, including 12 of 15 in the first half.
"Once that right hand gets going," Jefferson joked after the game, "even I can't stop it."
Led by their veteran center, the Jazz scored over 100 points for the first time in eight games. It was the first time since Jan. 21 that Utah scored over 100 points in a victory.
Devin Harris, who finished with 12 points and a season-high nine assists, credited Jefferson.
"He commands so much attention," Harris said. "We got a lot of open jump shots because of the way he was playing. When the ball came out because they were paying so much attention to him we got wide-open shots."
After scoring 10 points in the first quarter, Jefferson rested on the bench until Corbin went back to him with 5:51 left in the half.
Ten seconds later, he buried a tough 12-footer,
Jefferson ended up scoring 14 straight points. He had 16 of Utah's final 20 in the first half, which ended with the Jazz owning a 62-50 lead.
"It felt good," Jefferson said. "My teammates did a great job getting me the ball in the right spot. â¦
"You just want to take advantage of it because it could easily be the other way around. I could go 2-for-15 again and y'all would be asking me, 'What happened? Why did you miss your shots?' "
Like Harris, Corbin called Jefferson's effectiveness the key to Utah's win.
"If we can get him going, our offense seems to flow a lot better," Corbin said. "He can score one-on-one. He can draw a double-team. We can make hard cuts off him. It just gives us a good rhythm as far as attacking the basket is concerned."
Al Jefferson's last three games
Opponent FGs FTs Rebounds Blocks Points
New Orleans 6-14 2-2 12 1 14
Oklahoma City 7-19 1-1 5 0 15
Washington 16-23 2-2 12 1 34