Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/11/12
SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson finally enjoyed his breakout game of the 2012-13 season. While he battled a virus and has somewhat struggled to find his way in the new-look Jazz offense, Jefferson wasn't concerned. He had a season-high 27 points and 14 rebounds as the Utah Jazz held off the Phoenix Suns, 94-81, on Saturday night. According to Jefferson, there was nothing scientific about breaking out of his mini-slump. His scoring average, entering Saturday's game, had dipped more than seven points from last year. He bounced back from one of his worst outings as a Jazzman when he shot 1-for-9 and scored four points in a loss to Denver on Friday night. "I just made shots," Jefferson said. "Last night I missed shots and tonight they were falling." Jefferson started off hot, making five of his first seven shots en route to easily scoring a season high. His turnaround jumper with 1:50 left in the game put the Jazz ahead 88-79 and iced the game. The Jazz (3-4) remained unbeaten at home, while the Suns (3-4) had a modest two-game win streak snapped. Utah appeared to be coasting to an easy victory at home after it went ahead 73-53 with 3:44 left in the third quarter. The Suns, who rallied from a 26-point deficit to defeat Cleveland on Friday, kept it interesting. A dunk by Michael Beasley cut Utah's lead to 79-74 with 5:24 left in the game. "I thought we stopped moving the ball," said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin. "We got it down and we just kind of thought the game was going to be over. We just got in a lull there, but fortunately we got the guys back in and were able to pull it off." Jamaal Tinsley gave the Jazz some momentum back by stealing a sloppy pass by Jared Dudley. That sparked a 7-0 run by Utah with Paul Millsap and Jefferson sinking jumpers, and Marvin Williams adding a 3-pointer to make it 86-74. Millsap had a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds and Gordon Hayward chipped in 18 points for Utah. Luis Scola led Phoenix with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Dudley added 16 points. "Take nothing from them -- they played good," said Suns guard Shannon Brown, who had just four points and one assist. "They ran their offense, they executed, got their hands on balls, ran out and got layups." Utah never trailed and led by as many as 16 points in the first half. The Jazz went into the break with a 50-43 lead. Utah quickly put some space between it and Phoenix in the first quarter. A 9-2 run that was capped by a layup and a dunk by Enes Kanter put Utah ahead 27-13. "Just another bad start," said Suns coach Alvin Gentry. "We keep digging ourselves holes and try to dig our way out of it, and you can't do that, especially on the road. I don't think we did a very good job of executing and we didn't shoot the ball well at all." But Phoenix, thanks to solid play from Dudley, got back in the game. Dudley, who averaged 7.0 points per game entering Saturday's contest, led the Suns with 12 of his points in the first half. A layup by Dudley in transition got Phoenix within 48-43 with 57.2 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Tinsley, filling in for an injured Mo Williams, efficiently ran Utah's offense and dished 10 assists in the first half. He finished with 14 assists and committed just two turnovers. "He played extremely well, distributing the basketball to us, getting guys open, finding guys, reading the cuts," said Hayward. "He's shown he can do that before. He's been in the league a while." Jefferson had 13 first-half points and the Jazz held a 28-15 rebounding edge over Phoenix at halftime. NOTES: Mo Williams, the Jazz's leading scorer entering Saturday's game, strained his right adductor against the Denver Nuggets on Friday and did not play. He is averaging 16.8 points and 6.3 assists per game. ... Phoenix center Jermaine O'Neal missed his third consecutive game. He rejoined the Suns on Friday after taking time off to deal with a family matter, but did not make the trip to Utah. ... The Suns had won seven of their previous games against Utah.
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