SALT LAKE CITY — Hot topic of the evening: poor Jazz rebounding.
Yet when asked about his disenchantment over San Antonio's 46-31 edge in that particular statistical category during the Spurs win over Utah on Friday, Al Jefferson didn't limit himself to mere matters of the boards.
"The whole game was disappointing for me," Jefferson said.
On a night San Antonio big man Tim Duncan finished with a 19-point, 14-rebound double-double and became the all-time leading scorer in Spurs NBA history, Jefferson — who's had his share of successful outings against Duncan in the past — felt like nothing went right.
He did hit 4-for-7 from the field, but finished with just 10 points — his lowest offensive output since scoring only two and getting benched down the stretch of Utah's overtime win at Miami six games prior.
He collected just six rebounds, this from someone who averaged 9.3 in Minnesota last season and at least 11.0 in each of the three seasons before that. And he played an otherwise mostly uneventful 29 minutes, making no steals with no blocks.
Yet the Jazz have been doing all they can to keep their prize offseason acquisition as involved as possible.
"We're running things to him, we're trying to get the ball to him. He's actually getting quite a few opportunities. He's just got to cash in," longtime Jazz assistant coach Phil Johnson said. "We're trying to get him the ball. It's a matter of execution, and trying to work in to what we're doing.
"He's really never played the way we play, so he's not used to receiving screens and stuff. You know, it's a work in progress."
On both ends of the floor.
"He's always been a good rebounder," said Johnson, Utah's acting head coach Friday and again tonight at Portland. "So it's a matter of concentration and getting the job done. That's all."
Asked what took him out of Friday's game, Jefferson's response was as to-the-point as allowable without it costing any hard cash.
"I had six fouls," he said.
Untimely ones, too.
Jefferson picked up two quick ones in a 28-second span late in the first half, and his third came just more than two minutes into the third quarter.
The fourth — a quite questionable one — followed at the 7:17 mark of the third, and it happened on the offensive end, negating a Jefferson bucket that would have pulled the Jazz to within four at 55-51.
That forced Jefferson to take an early seat, and when his fifth came midway through the final quarter Johnson elected to keep him in the game.
Jefferson eventually fouled out with 1:28 left. But Utah was well out of it by then, down 93-82.
"I think tonight we just gave up too early," he said, recalling a string of five straight double-digit comebacks earlier this month. "We put our heads down when things weren't going our way, and I think we just took ourselves out of the game."
Allowing the Spurs to win the rebounding battle so convincingly certainly didn't help matters.
"I think a lot of times we found ourselves helping and getting ourselves out of position, and guys just took advantage of it," Jefferson said when asked what was behind all that.
"Regardless of what it was, you know," he added when asked further just how much Spurs point guard Tony Parker's dribble penetration into the lane had to do with that, "we was taught to help — and we went to help, and they get the great position."
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