Utah Jazz beat Lakers, 95-86, thanks to Jefferson, Foye
Mo Williams walked past Randy Foye in the Utah Jazz locker room, stuck out his right arm and slapped hands with his teammate twice.
In the Jazz's 95-86, slump-busting win against the Lakers on Wednesday at EnergySolutions Arena, heroes abounded. There was Al Jefferson making clutch shots in the fourth quarter and recording his third double-double, Enes Kanter scoring seven of his 9 points in the first half, Alec Burks drawing a charge on Kobe Bryant. But no two players were more crucial, nor displayed better synergy, than Williams and Foye. The first-year Jazz players spent the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, and that relationship finally paid off for the Jazz.
"We're familiar," Foye said. "I know he can go off, he knows I could go off. Last year I went off a lot and hit a lot of 3s and he knows once I get it going that he always tries to find me."
At the end of the third quarter in San Antonio on Saturday, it was Williams who went off. On Wednesday, it was Foye, and Williams did his part.
Latest tweets on the Utah Jazz
Foye, who finished with 17 points, made 3-pointers on three consecutive trips down the floor. On the third, Williams drove and bounced a pass behind him to Foye, who bobbled it. Foye passed it off, and continued to float around the perimeter.
"I just kept going back and forth, back and forth," Foye said, "and he finally found me and I knocked it down."
It was Foye's fifth 3-pointer, putting the Jazz up 79-68 with 6:40 left in the game.
Jefferson led the Jazz with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Williams chipped in for 16.
In a small sample size, it was the Jazz's (2-3) most impressive win of the season. Following a season-opening win over Dallas on Halloween night, the Jazz piled up three straight road losses. Doing it against the revamped Lakers (1-4) - who, albeit, were without Steve Nash due to a non-displaced fracture in his left leg - made it all the better.
"It's definitely sweet," Williams said, "but it was all about us tonight. Didn't matter who we played. We needed to get this win to head back on the road."
The Jazz play at Denver in a nationally televised game on Friday. They return Saturday to play Phoenix before going on a four-game road trip on the East Coast.
While the Jazz led by double digits for most of the night against the Lakers, including a high of 16, Los Angeles didn't make it entirely easy. Kobe Bryant scored the Lakers final 16 points in the last 6:02 of the game.
"It's Kobe," Williams said. "He's great for a reason."
That reason, however, was never enough to put the Lakers back in a position to seize the lead.
Dwight Howard added 19 points and 9 rebounds for the Lakers, and Metta World Peace scored 15. The Jazz bench, however, outscored the Lakers' 36-12.
It started at the end of the first quarter, when Corbin inserted a small lineup of Foye, Burks, Jamaal Tinsley, Kanter and Derrick Favors.
The group gave the Jazz a lift over the Lakers that set the tone for the rest of the night. The Jazz led 21-17 when Burks, who played fewer than 10 minutes in the first four games, entered the game and led 43-28 when he left.
While Bryant was leading the surge for the Lakers in the fourth quarter, Jefferson was quietly responding for the Jazz. He scored 10 points in the quarter, including 8 in a row at one point.
"The guys really grinded it out," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We needed a win bad on our home floor."