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Jefferson continues to mesh with Jazz in 4th preseason win

Jefferson continues to mesh with Jazz in 4th preseason win


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Al Jefferson is just four games into his first season with the Utah Jazz and is already making himself right at home.

After putting up six, 14 and 16 points in games 1, 2 and 3 of the preseason, Jefferson posted his biggest performance Thursday at EnergySolutions Arena with 24 points and six rebounds in Utah's 108-97 win over the Phoenix Suns.

"He scored us a lot of points. That's all anybody wants to see," coach Jerry Sloan said. "We're happy for him. I thought he was a lot more alive, his body looks like it's in better shape. He's starting to show some of his quickness around the basket, and it's nice to see."


He's starting to show some of his quickness around the basket, and it's nice to see.

–Jerry Sloan


Jefferson spent almost 26 minutes on the hardwood - the most of any Jazzman - and managed to keep Utah in stride with the Suns while Sloan rotated old starters, new trade acquisitions and rookies on and off the bench in different combinations.

The former Minnesota Timberwolf seems to be meshing well with the rest of the Jazz lineup, and had little trouble getting what he wanted anywhere on the court Thursday night.

"This offense alone just gets you the ball in the right spot. You've got teammates like (Deron Williams) just coming out and throwing that ball out of nowhere," Jefferson said. "That's the blessing I get playing with a great point guard like him."

After an 8-point, 2-rebound effort in the opening quarter, Jefferson sat the second and came off the bench in third to post 12 points and four boards. The Jazz lost a narrow first quarter lead to an improved effort from the Suns in the second quarter, ending the half down 56-55, but got back in front of Phoenix behind Jefferson's third quarter efficiency and stayed there for the rest of the night.

"Every game, every practice, I'm getting better and better. The first game of the regular season, hopefully it'll look like I've been here for years," Jefferson said.


The first game of the regular season, hopefully it'll look like I've been here for years.

–Al Jefferson


C.J. Miles said he and the rest of the team aren't surprised by the game-by-game improvement the Jazz have seen from Jefferson throughout the preseason.

Rookie Jeremy Evans, Williams and Miles also posted double digits in Utah's win with 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively, and grabbed a combined 15 rebounds.

Despite Utah's offensive effort that led to the extension of their undefeated preseason record, Sloan said he's not happy with the defensive demonstration he's seen from the Jazz thus far.

"I don't like what I'm seeing from any of them (defensively). They've all got to do a better job," Sloan said. "If we're gonna be able to compete against teams, we've got to be a lot tougher than what we are."

The Jazz moved to 4-0 with their second consecutive win over the Suns and will begin a short two-game road trip in Los Angeles against the Clippers Oct. 16.

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