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Al Jefferson Tips In Game Winner As The Utah Jazz Beat The Toronto Raptors

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I'll take it.  I don't care that this was a win over a 17-win team that just got back from London.  I don't care that the Jazz couldn't shoot a lick in the third and that they had to comeback by draining threes and won on a tip-in at the buzzer.  I'll take it.  I'll take it every day of the week.  Of course my expectations have been severely lowered each day in the past two months, but I'll take it.

Let's pick it up in the third quarter when the Jazz went on a 6-0 to take an 8-point lead.  That put the Jazz up 60-52 and in a good position to take control of the game.  Instead, the Raptors would switch to a zone and dare the Jazz to make an outside shot.  Their strategy worked.  The Raptors went on a 32-10 run and turned that 8-point deficit into a 14-point lead.  It wasn't looking good.  The jazz were down 14 with just a little over 8 minutes to go in the game.  This was looking ugly and a repeat of previous close losses.

About that time though, the Jazz deployed the zone themselves and Toronto started taking, and missing, a lot of bad shots.  Little by little, Utah chipped away at the lead.  A couple of CJ Miles buckets here, a Watson three.  At one point, they made four consecutive three-pointers with Watson, Harris, and CJ (2X) all making one.  After that barrage, the Jazz found themselves down just 2 with about 3 1/2 minutes left to play.

After that 14-point lead, the Jazz held the Raptors to just 2 field goals in the final 8 minutes, the last being a three-pointer by Leandro Barbosa to tie the game up at 94.  I'll let Spencer from The Utah Jazz Blog provide the video for what happened next,

Big Al Game Winner against Toronto from MLMarchitect on Vimeo.

I couldn't even tell that it was going to go in until the players started celebrating.  I like how Harris got lunched out of the way after his shot.  A tip shot like that might go in what, 1 out of 10 times?  Great hustle and a good win.

The win kept the flicker of playoff hopes from getting blown out. The Jazz are just 1 1/2 games back of the Grizzlies after they lost in NYC on a last-second Carmelo Anthony shot.  Man, they just won't die.  The door isn't shut just yet.

Off to Minnesota again.

Click on through for player and other notes

  • Raptors HQ
  • Al Jefferson just keeps doing work.  His production over the past month has been All-star caliber.  I'm not cringing when he shoots the weezy right now.  In fact, the field goal that put the Jazz up late was a long weezy that he nailed.  34 & 8 for the big man tonight.
  • Credit to Devin Harris for playing through a sprained ankle and after crashing into the camera crew.
  • Hayward didn't have the best line but had an impressive chase-down block of Barbosa, saved the ball, then ran the break the other way and found Jefferson for the finish.
  • That DeMar DeRozan dunk in the lane was just nasty.  I'm glad we didn't have a dunk-off.
  • Everyone watching this game in the arena and at home has as many free-throw attempts in the second half as the Jazz did.  0.  Amazing.
  • Harris had a good rebound game putting up 23 & 5.  He and CJ had almost identical stats (23 & 4) but Miles had 7 rebounds.
  • The Jazz held the Raptors to just 6-22 shooting in the fourth (27%)
  • Jeremy Evans didn't put up numbers in his first career start.  His big play though when he denied Ed Davis on a dunk attempt but landed on his back.
  • Marcus Cousin got just enough floor time to show that they didn't have a jersey for him yet.  Via OutsidetheNBA,

  • Favors got about 17 minutes of PT and had just the one field goal.  He did have 5 boards in that time.