Big Al in Double Figures as Pacers Down Jazz
Al Jefferson hit double digits against one of his former teams, and the Indiana Pacers overcame a career night from Indy native Gordon Hayward to top the Utah Jazz.
Big Al took full advantage of his 11 minutes on the floor, tallying 10 points off 5-of-9 shooting with four rebounds in Indy’s 107-100 win.
Indiana led early in the contest thanks to hot shooting by Monta Ellis, who at one point scored seven straight Pacers points, giving them a 24-14 lead with 2:47 left in the first. The Jazz kept it close by going on a 9-2 run, but Al’s layup with eight seconds left gave the Pacers a five-point lead after one.
Utah threatened the lead again in the second, cutting the gap to two with 9:48 until the break. Big Al spearheaded the response, though, getting short jumpers on back-to-back possessions to push the advantage back to seven. The Jazz scored six straight in the final minute of the half to cut it back to two, but Glen Robinson III’s three at the buzzer put the score at 51-46 after one half.
The game tightened up in the third with the Pacers maintaining a slim lead throughout, but Indiana closed the quarter on a 10-2 run to take an 80-70 cushion heading into the fourth.
A nifty spin move to the hoop by Al against Jeff Withey pushed the Pacers lead to 12 to open the final quarter. His short jumper in traffic a couple minutes later opened a game-high 13-point lead for the home team.
From there Utah went on a 9-0 run to tighten the score to 86-82 with 9:11 left. The Pacers responded with an 8-2 run to regain control and a double-digit lead.
The Pacers led by 11 with 3:17 to play, but eight straight points by the Jazz, with five from Hayward, put Indiana’s advantage at just 100-97 with 2:12 left. Paul George took over from there, hitting a three on the Pacers next possession. George Hill’s and-one layup took the lead back to three, but George answered with a jumper on the other end. After icing the game with free throws, George was responsible for Indiana’s last seven points.
“It was time to win a ballgame,” said George. “It would have been a shame if we fought that hard-especially a back-to-back where we were giving all that energy-and lost that game in the end.”
The Pacers were hammered 52-36 down low but made up for it by making 10 threes to Utah’s six, and 21 free throws to the Jazz’s 14.
With the win, the Pacers have now gone a franchise-record 14 straight games alternating wins and losses since the end of the All-Star break.
The Boston Celtics welcome the Pacers to TD Garden on Wednesday. Tip off is at 7:30 p.m. EST.