Al Jefferson scored 33 points on 14-18 shooting, including 13 points in a difference-making fourth quarter as the Utah Jazz used an 18-3 closing run to knock away the visiting Detroit Pistons and win 105-90 Monday night.
The Pistons used a guard-heavy approach against the Jazz, attacking with dribble penetration and getting good results. They were led by the efforts of Rodney Stuckey (10-17, 29 points, seven assists), Ben Gordon (5-10, 12 points) and Brandon Knight (11 points).
Stuckey in particular was effective, taking both Devin Harris and Earl Watson into the lane and succeeding with great efficiency. In addition to his excellent field goal shooting, Stuckey also went 9-11 from the free throw line. He only scored four of his 29 in the fourth quarter, however, as the Jazz began to trap around the perimeter and the Pistons offense wilted.
Through three quarters, both teams were shooting almost an identical 53 percent from the field, but the aforementioned defensive pressure paid dividends for the Jazz, as they held Detroit to only 3-13 shooting in the fourth quarter.
Buoyed by that defensive effort, the Jazz pounded the ball to Jefferson, who responded over and over again, hitting five of six shots in the last seven minutes of the game. Also huge in the run was the outside touch of C.J. Miles, who knocked down three big three-pointers in the final quarter, scoring 11 in the fourth and 15 for the game.
Devin Harris helped pace the Jazz through the second and third quarters with his 19 points, and he set up those key baskets by Jefferson and Miles in the fourth with his four fourth quarter assists, giving him eight for the game.
The last of those assists came when the Jazz was up 12 with over 30 seconds to play. Harris dribbled the clock down and then flipped it to Jefferson, who was standing outside the three point line. Needing to hoist the shot or take a violation, Jefferson tossed it towards the hoop and it went in -- his sixth field goal and his 11th, 12th and 13th points of the quarter as well as his first ever NBA three-point field goal. Jefferson, in his eighth season, had been 0-23 prior to that hoop.
Jefferson was playing despite the recent death of his grandmother, and SLC Dunk noted that the Jazz had his back all night:
Al Jefferson. Best game of his career in terms of emotional output. And glad our guys supported him. Paul Millsap was cutting and making his shots. Devin Harris was pushing the pace. Gordon Hayward was going to the rack. And C.J. Miles was draining threes.
Biggest assists game from Grandma Jefferson. Such a special night. Storybook ending.
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