Jazz edge Bobcats, ruin Jefferson's return

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- Center Al Jefferson hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end his first game back in Utah after signing with the Charlotte Bobcats this past summer, but the shot came about 10 seconds too late.
Center Derrick Favors made a go-ahead dunk with 58 seconds remaining, and point guard Trey Burke scored the final two of his 21 points on a late layup to lift the Utah Jazz to an 83-80 victory over the Bobcats on Monday at EnergySolutions Arena.
Jefferson's final 41-foot shot merely trimmed Charlotte's margin of defeat.
"It was a hard-fought ballgame we ended up winning," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We made some mistakes, but I think a lot of these games for this young group of guys is learning how to finish games."
They did that very well for the second time in 10 days against the Bobcats (14-18).
Burke's basket with 19 seconds remaining barely beat the shot clock, and it put Utah ahead 80-77 in the low-scoring but exciting game. Burke added five assists to help the Jazz (10-24) win their second home game in a row and their seventh consecutive game in Salt Lake City against Charlotte.
Jefferson, a former Jazz center, tried to tie the game with a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining, but his shot crashed off the rim. With 43 seconds left, he missed a push shot from 4 feet away that could have given the Bobcats a one-point lead.
"Just missed some easy shots, especially the one I missed when we were down one," Jefferson said. "We dug ourselves in a deep hole and had to fight all the way back. They made some tough shots down the stretch. They wanted it more than we did."
Favors and guard Gordon Hayward clinched the Jazz's 10th straight win over Charlotte with free throws in the final 10 seconds.
The Jazz beat the Bobcats 88-85 in Charlotte on Dec. 21. Jefferson missed two put-back attempts in the final 13 seconds of that game.
"I think we executed down the stretch, and that's more important than anything, especially in the defensive end," Burke said. "We knew that they were going to go to Big Al down low, and I think we did a good job containing him."
Jefferson signed a three-year deal with Charlotte in the offseason. He moved on after the Jazz made it clear to him that the franchise was rebuilding with younger players, including big guys he mentored, Favors and Enes Kanter.
Jefferson, Utah's leading scorer from 2010-13, finished with 18 points on 8-of-23 shooting, and he pulled down 10 rebounds.
"We had our chances, obviously," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. "What do they say? It's a make-or-miss league, and they made and we missed. That's happened to us now the last three nights."
Guard Gerald Henderson scored 19 points and point guard Kemba Walker had 18 for Charlotte, which scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter and eventually erased the Jazz's 14-point lead.
The Jazz got a nice boost off the bench from shooting guard Alec Burks, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
Neither team shot well, with Utah hitting 42.5 percent from the field compared to the Bobcats' 36.9 percent shooting.
Utah held a 42-34 halftime lead but nearly blew it after a 27-point fourth-quarter explosion from Charlotte. That was the only quarter in which either team scored more than 21 points.
NOTES: Bobcats C Al Jefferson posted a career-high point total the last time he played in Utah. His 40-point, 13-rebound effort led the Jazz to a 107-100 win over another one of his old teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves, on April 12 to keep the Jazz in playoff contention. ... Bobcats assistant Bob Weiss was the head coach of San Antonio in the 1986-87 season when Tyrone Corbin, now Utah's coach, played for the Spurs. ... Jefferson scored in double figures for the 19th consecutive game, and Charlotte G Kemba Walker ran his double-digit-scoring streak to 21 games. Walker and G Gerald Henderson had a similar streak end at 18 games last spring. Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace hold the franchise record for a duo hitting double digits with 28 straight from Dec. 14, 2007, through Feb. 8, 2008.

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