Published January 13, 2015
Al Jefferson matched a career-high with 40 points on 19-of-27 from the field to go along with 13 rebounds and a season-high six assists to lead the Utah Jazz to a crucial 107-100 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at EnergySolutions Arena.
Jefferson's final two baskets of the evening were the difference for Utah, which trailed 98-97 with just under four minutes left in the game.
"I felt like it started with me," Jefferson said. "I figured if I kept doing my job on the block I would get my teammates open shots."
The Jazz are just one game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth spot in the Western Conference after the Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors on Friday.
Mo Williams and Randy Foye netted 16 points apiece for Utah, which won despite turning the ball over 18 times while forcing just 10 Minnesota miscues.
J.J. Barea shot 9-of-10 from the foul line and paced Minnesota with 23 points off the bench. Ricky Rubio added 13 points.
Trailing 97-90 with 5:19 remaining, Minnesota gained some momentum after Barea drew a flagrant foul from Jazz big man Derrick Favors. Barea sunk the free throws, followed by consecutive Rubio triples.
Jefferson responded with two mid-range jumpers, the Jazz stepped up the intensity defensively, and Williams put the game away with four makes from the free throw stripe.
"He made a lot of shots, but yes, he is physical," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said of Jefferson. "Al made a lot of jump shots tonight, too. He faced up and knocked down shots."
The Jazz finished the first quarter on a 15-8 surge, capped by Gordon Heyward's running 3-pointer, which he banked in with less than a second left.
They were unable to carry that momentum into the second period however, as Minnesota took a 54-53 lead into halftime. Barea and Chase Budinger combined for 23 points in the quarter, matching Utah's entire output.
Jefferson started and finished the third quarter with baskets, each of which gave the Jazz a one-point lead. Minnesota led for the duration of the period otherwise.
Rubio was the lone Wolves' starter to score in the fourth quarter.
Wolves' center Nikola Pekovic missed the game with a left calf contusion ... Minnesota shot 20-of-21 from the foul line ... The Jazz shot 58.3 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from behind the arc.