And what better way to move on?
Millsap and Jefferson entered the game as the Jazz’s two leading scorers and rebounders. For a franchise that has long built itself around big men, it needs the pair to thrive to be successful.
“Me and Paul the leaders of this team,” Jefferson said. “Along with Mo [Williams], and he’s out right now. So me and Paul have to step up.”
And while Jefferson was his usual efficient self, finishing 10 of 18 from the field, Millsap caught fire in the second half. He scored 11 points in the first 5 minutes, 20 seconds of the third quarter and his 14-foot jumper with 1:51 remaining put the Jazz up 97-94.
“I don’t remember too many times when Paul have a great game and we lose,” Jefferson said. “I have great games all the time and we still might lose. But when Paul have a great game, it’s very big for us.”
The Jazz were 32 of 46 from the free throw line, including a career-high 16 attempts (11 makes) by Millsap.
After trailing 29-19 at the end of the first quarter, the Jazz outscored New Orleans 32-18 in the second period. They never trailed by more than one point in the second half.
After the win, after the center of the Jazz — well, the center and the power forward — scored 13 of their last 16 points, the players retreated to the locker room. Jefferson and Millsap sat side by side, and moments later, a semicircle of cameras and microphones formed around them.
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