The young Utah Jazz got major contributions from two of their most experienced players during Wednesday night's 111-106 win over New Orleans at EnergySolutions Arena.
Richard Jefferson scored a season-high 22 points, including 17 in the second half, as the Jazz snapped a season-opening eight-game losing streak. Meanwhile, Marvin Williams scored 12 points, including a critical 3-point shot with 1:22 remaining, to help Utah rally from a 16-point deficit.
"... I can't tell you how good it feels for the team and the coaching staff and how hard everybody's been working," Jefferson said. "It really was a team effort."
Said Williams: "Huge. Flat-out huge. We got a complete effort tonight. Guys on the bench were talking to us. Guys on the court were communicating, especially in the defensive end and we made some big shots some big plays. At the end of the day, we hung in there."
Jefferson, acquired from Golden State in the offseason, enjoyed his best stretch with the Jazz after New Orleans scored the first six points of the second half.
Down 61-45, Utah seemed doomed. But after a time-out, Jefferson rallied his teammates by scoring nine points in just under four minutes.
He started a 15-2 run by the Jazz with a three-pointer, off an assist by Gordon Hayward. Moments later, he drove the lane and dunked. In the end, he finished 7 for 11 from the field, including 3 for 4 from the three-point line.
Jefferson credited assistant coaches Sidney Lowe, Johnnie Bryant and Alex Jensen for helping get his jump shot back on track.
He explained: "â¦ Sidney came up to me the other day and said, 'I've watched all your jump shots and all you're doing is turning your shoulders a little bit. You're not squaring up.' I took that advice and went to the gym."
After taking "500 or 600" jump shots during the last two days, Jefferson's stroke returned.
"Sometimes it's little simple things like that help you get into a rhythm," he said. " And it just shows everybody is here working and trying to improve as a team."
It was an emotional win for Williams, who last week returned after offseason Achilles surgery.
"Usually I keep to myself a little more I don't talk as much," he said. "But tonight was one of those games, we wanted it bad. R.J. was out there screaming and we got [Hayward] out there talking a little bit. It just shows how hungry we were for a win and I'm glad we got it."
A closer look
• Richard Jefferson scores 17 of his 22 points in the second half.
• Marvin Williams' 3-pointer with 1:22 remaining in the game gives Utah a 104-100 lead.
• Jefferson scores nine points in a four-minute stretch of the third quarter, after the Jazz fall behind by 16.