NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 80:
Minnesota Timberwolves 100 @ Utah Jazz 107
Fan appreciation night, and maybe Millsap's last home game for the team that drafted him
What a crazy game. What a great game. Sure, the Jazz were playing against a lotto team without Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, but the Jazz had to take care of business at home. And they did. And they did it thanks to a huuu-uuuuge game from Al Jefferson. In fact, this was Jefferson's best game in a Jazz uniform. I think that Al really started cooking because he was getting shots early at the rim. This is exactly what Mehmet Okur used to do, and he used to live by the motto of scoring inside early to get the rest of his game going. It worked for Al as well tonight, as he finished with 40 big points (19/27 fg, 2/2 ft -- so that's 1.48 PPS, which is Malone-like), 13 points, and 6 assists. He led the team in points, rebounds, and assists tonight. He also played 41 minutes, and we needed each second he was on the floor. It was a monumental game for Jefferson, and he was really the only advantage we had against the T-Wolves on paper. They have a ton of speedy guards and effective wings.
So we needed Big Al to deliver, and he did. We don't win this game without him for sure.
But the win wasn't as secure as Al's dominance. The Jazz were up by 8 after one quarter, but went into halftime being down. I expected the Jazz to come out big in the third, but there was no defense being played and the Jazz went into the fourth up by only 1 point. And in the fourth things got really chippy between J.J. Barea (23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 9/10 FT) and the combo of Alec Burks (7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 three) and Derrick Favors (6 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks).
The hard double shove by Burks throwing Barea into Favors, and then the Favors "elbow" into J.J. turned the heat up in this game, and Minny was still in it. However, they were unable to keep pace with the Jazz as they missed scoring on 5 straight possessions. Big Al was our Alfense tonight, and responded with FGM after FGM. Then the Jazz iced the game with Randy Foye and Mo Williams strong shooting (a combined 6/9 3pt, 3/3 ft, 6 assists).
There wasn't much help from Paul Millsap (10 points, 3 rebounds, but he kept the Jazz head above water in the first half, -14 in +/-, worst on the team) or Gordon Hayward (5 points, 5 shots, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals) tonight. Similarly no one on Minny took over or responded to Big Al. All their starters had 'meh' games (though Andrei Kirilenko played good defense and finished a few dunks).
The Jazz needed this game, and Big Al was the man who got it for us. Bravo Al.