Notebook: Jazz 107, Timberwolves 100

Posted Apr 13, 2013 12:44 AM

Andrew Aragon, for

THE FACTS: If it was Al Jefferson's final home game in a Utah Jazz uniform, he sent fans away with something to remember.

Jefferson tied a career-high with 40 points and had 13 rebounds and six assists to keep the Jazz in playoff contention with a 107-100 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. Utah trails the Los Angeles Lakers by a half-game for the Western Conference's final playoff spot. The Lakers are playing Golden State in a late game on Friday.

Jefferson, who will be a free agent after the season, scored 29 of his points in the second half in Utah's regular season home finale. Mo Williams and Randy Foye each scored 16 for the Jazz.

Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, was a late scratch because of a calf contusion. Greg Stiemsma started in his place, played 41 minutes and recorded 10 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.

J.J. Barea scored a team-high 23 points for the Timberwolves.

QUOTABLE: "I felt like it started with me. I felt like, no disrespect to them, that I had the advantage on the block because they were trying to guard me one-on-one. I figured if I kept doing my job on the block I would get my teammates open shots. I think toward the third quarter is when they really started to try to double-team me and that's when (Foye) and them got some big shots. I just felt it started with me."
-- Jazz center Jefferson on carrying the team.

THE STAT: When the Jazz outscore their opponent in the paint, it usually translates into a win for Utah. The Jazz, with a big advantage inside due to Minnesota's key injuries and Jefferson doing most of the work, outscored the Timberwolves 44-32 in the paint. Utah improved to 28-8 when it has more points in the paint than its opponent.

TURNING POINT: The Jazz were down a point with 3:52 remaining, but closed the game on a 10-2 run to put it away. Jefferson (who else) made the go-ahead jumper to give Utah a 99-98 lead. He then hit a jumper before Williams iced the contest with six free throws. The Jazz also turned up their intensity on defense as Minnesota missed six consecutive shots while falling behind 103-98. The Timberwolves missed eight of their last nine shots with the one made being credited to Ricky Rubio thanks to a goaltending call on Derrick Favors.

HOT: Jefferson had perhaps his best all-around game in a Jazz uniform. He sank 19 shots to set a career-high for field goals made. He worked for his points as well as he attempted just two free throws. The Jazz shot a season-high 61.5 percent (8-for-13) from 3-point range. Foye found what had been a missing shooting touch as he shot 5-for-7 from 3-point range. He also helped slow Barea with solid defense on him in the fourth quarter. Alec Burks returned for the Jazz after missing two games because of a sprained ankle and played well. He had seven points and four rebounds in 19 minutes. Barea got the Timberwolves in the game after a slow start. He made his first five shots and scored 11 straight points during the second quarter.

NOT: Williams helped clinch the game with six free throws, but he also took a couple of questionable shots in the fourth quarter. He missed a runner and a long jumper on two different possessions with Utah clinging to a 99-98 lead and they could have been costly. Barea, after making his first five shots, missed eight of his last nine. Alexey Shved had a team-high five assists, but shot just 1-for-5.

QUOTABLE II: "That's my job. You got a big guy that plays inside like that and is such a force it makes my job that much easier. He was on a roll tonight and I just waited for them to double him and when they doubled him I made them pay."
-- Jazz guard Foye on hitting open shots against Minnesota.

GOOD MOVE: Forget the Jazz's usual style of offense of cutting to the basket and making extra passes. They chose to dump the ball into Jefferson and get out of his way -- and it couldn't have worked better. Sensing their big man was having a career night, the Jazz ran their offense through Jefferson. He responded by carrying Utah. He had 19 of the team's 29 points in the third quarter. The Timberwolves threw different looks at him, including double teams, and Jefferson made them pay for it. He found open teammates and his six assists tied a season-high.

BAD MOVE: Favors committed a flagrant foul on Barea and it couldn't have come at a worse time. Just as the Jazz were starting to pull away, having taken a 97-90 lead with 5:19 remaining, Favors let his emotions get the best of him. After a Jefferson miss, he got tangled with Barea as he began to run to get back on defense. He used his forearm to push Barea out of the way and the Minnesota guard went to the ground. Surely, Barea plays at 100 miles per hour at all times and is an irritant to opponents, but Favors needed to keep his head. The play ignited the Timberwolves as Barea made both free throws and Rubio hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Minnesota in the lead at 98-97 with 3:52 left in the game.

NOTABLE: Utah finished with a 30-11 home record. The two teams play again in Minnesota on Monday. The Timberwolves went winless on a three-game road trip, losing the three games by an average of 13 points. The Jazz have defeated Minnesota seven straight times in Utah. Former Jazzman Andrei Kirilenko had eight points, three assists and three rebounds in his second game in Utah in an opposing uniform. Utah's Paul Millsap, a free agent at the end of the season, didn't play in the fourth quarter and had 10 points in 24 minutes.

UP NEXT: For the Timberwolves, Saturday vs. Suns, Monday vs. Jazz, Wednesday @ San Antonio. For the Jazz, Monday @ Minnesota, Wednesday @ Memphis.