Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Following Al Jefferson’s lead, Utah Jazz return to .500 with win against Bobcats
NBA » Big man playing his best ball since joining team.
First Published Mar 07 2012 09:10 pm • Last Updated Jun 25 2012 11:33 pm

Charlotte, N.C. • At their best, the Jazz were defined by Paul Millsap last season.

The 2011-12 campaign already belongs to Al Jefferson.

At a glance

Jazz 99, Bobcats 93

IN SHORT » Jazz climb back to .500 and move to 2-1 on their five-game road trip.

KEY STAT » Utah outscores Charlotte 35-14 in second-chance points and 54-36 in the paint.

KEY MOMENT » The Jazz open the third quarter with a 20-5 run.

Gordon Monson » The NBA may allow advertising on uniforms: Is nothing sacred? > D5

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Jazz-Bobcats box score: http://bit.ly/wg5jlQ

Nearly 20 months after joining Utah, Big Al is playing his best all-around basketball since putting on a Jazz uniform.

He scored a game-high 31 points, grabbed a co-game high nine rebounds and dished out a co-team high five assists Wednesday during Utah’s 99-93 win against the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena.

It was the second-consecutive contest the eight-year veteran has topped his team in all three key statistical categories. And with Utah (19-19) hitting .500 for the first time since Feb. 19, the Jazz did more than move to 2-1 on their five-game road trip and win their fourth contest in five attempts. Utah continued to remain near the edge of the Western Conference playoff picture, picking up its second consecutive victory as it prepares for a back-to-back road test against Philadelphia and Chicago — two of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams.

"When it comes down to winning games and learning how to win, we’re doing it right now," Jefferson said. "We’ve just got to keep it up, man. We’ve got two tough games coming up. … I believe in my heart that if we continue to play like we played the last two games, we’re going to win ’em."

Much like a road victory against a poor Cleveland team Monday, the Jazz’s win against the Bobcats — 5-32 and the NBA’s worst club, record-wise — was far from perfect. Utah allowed Charlotte to hang close for the first two quarters, and the Bobcats outscored the Jazz 29-19 in the final period while cutting a 20-point lead to 92-83 with 3 minutes, 49 seconds to go.

story continues below
story continues below

But Jefferson closed it out, driving Charlotte center Bismack Biyombo — a 19-year-old from the Congo — mad in the process. One night after Biyombo appeared to take a major step forward in his evolution with a 10-point, 15-rebound, seven-block outing against Dwight Howard in the Bobcats’ surprising home win Tuesday, the raw rookie was publicly embarrassed by Big Al.

Jefferson pulled out every offensive move in his arsenal and used them at will, alternately blowing by, shooting over and running through Biyombo. The Jazz center stood up for the No. 7 overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, saying he shows promise and will only improve over time. But then Jefferson acknowledged what was obvious from jumpball: The project couldn’t hang with the proven.

"He didn’t know about [my] ball fake," Jefferson said. "That’s what it was. It was working for me [Wednesday] and I just took my time on the offensive end. Jumpshots was going in, jump hook was going in. … Everything was just flowing for me."

Charlotte outshot Utah from the field (47.1 percent to 44.8) and the Bobcats took 13 more foul shots (37 to 24). But the Jazz followed Jefferson’s lead inside. Utah outscored Charlotte 54-36 in the paint, won the rebound battle 43-34, and the Jazz picked up 35 second-chance points to the Bobcats’ 14.

Hard work. Extra hustle. Another win. Back to even, with 28 games to go during a lockout-shortened season.

"It really is important for us," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We talked about taking care of your business on the road. I don’t care who we’re playing, we’ve got to play better."

Up just 48-47 with 26 seconds left in the first half, a fallaway Devin Harris 3-pointer gave the Jazz a 51-47 halftime lead. Utah then used a 23-5 run to silence Charlotte and head to Philadelphia with a feeling it has been searching for all year: momentum away from Salt Lake City.

"We’re better. I’m reluctant to tell you that’s it’s looking great, because I think we still got work to do," Jazz guard Raja Bell said. "With the talent we have in this room and the ability of some of the guys in this room, we’re not where we should be. But we’re in a decent spot right now and we’re getting better and that’s good. We’re not regressing."


Twitter: @tribjazz

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.