Utah Jazz notebook: D-Will, Big Al watch from bench as Jazz pull out amazing victory
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
MIAMI — Deron Williams and Al Jefferson had the best seats in the house for the ending of one of the greatest Utah Jazz comebacks in franchise history.
But the two standouts are not complaining about it at all.
Not after watching their teammates pull out an unbelievable-but-true 116-114 overtime victory over the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena after trailing by as many as 22 points.
Williams fouled out with four seconds remaining in regulation, leaving the point guard duties in crunch time to Ronnie Price. The All-Star point guard left for his spot next to the other subs with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting, 14 assists and four rebounds.
The win, Williams said, "was great."
He might have gnawed off a few fingernails, though.
"It was nervous for me," Williams said, "especially because I was over there (on the bench) where I'm not used to being at the end of games. I had to watch."
At least this time he was in the arena. An injured Williams had to watch from the training room when Sundiata Gaines hit his heroic shot against, yep, LeBron James and Cleveland in January.
Williams loved what he saw, though.
Paul Millsap, who had a monstrous career night with 46 points, sent the game to overtime, and Price and company did just enough to cool the much-hyped Heat and fire up the 4-3 Jazz to an unlikely win.
"This team fought," Williams said. "It says a lot about us, that we're resilient, that we're going to fight. We're not going to lay down for anybody."
It also showed the Jazz aren't going to let egos get in the way of success — even on off nights.
That was the case with Jefferson, the starting center, who basically got benched. He didn't even play at all in the fourth quarter or overtime after struggling immensely against the Heat, putting up only two points on 1-for-7 shooting.
It's all good now, of course.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said it wasn't personal, but he liked the efforts he got from Kyrylo Fesenko and Francisco Elson more on this night than what he got from Jefferson.
It's not a big deal for the future, though.
"I just thought that we were doing a little bit better job defensively," Sloan said. "Al was struggling a little bit with his shooting. It wasn't anything personal or anything like that. We haven't had an argument."
Jefferson won't be starting one, that's for sure.
"That happens. In 82 games, that's going to happen, man," Jefferson said of not playing late in the game.
He plans on playing tonight at Orlando, of course.
"The good thing about this league is we've got another one tomorrow," Jefferson said. "I can't sit back and feel sorry for myself about this game. I can't feel sorry at all because we won. Regardless of how bad I played, we won. And that's what matters. =85 I've just got to bounce back."
Or stay out of Millsap's way.
"It's the good thing about this team — for me to have a bad game and D-Will to foul out and we still put ourself in a position to win and we still won," he said. "That's the good thing about how deep we are."
NOTES: Overcoming a 19-point halftime deficit ties the franchise's second-largest hole the Jazz have dug out of before, having previously done that in 1984 against Golden State. Utah once overcome a 34-point halftime deficit against Denver on Nov. 27, 1996, and still won. ... Millsap's previous career-high in scoring was 32 points. Going 19-for-28 also set a career mark for field goals (previous high of 13). ... Millsap was a 2-for-20 3-pointer in his career coming into the game. He went 3-for-3 from 3-point land for the game.
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