BOSTON — This homecoming didn't go nearly as well for Al Jefferson as his last one did.
Then again, you might've expected that, considering Big Al faced his rookie club, the mighty Boston Celtics, and not Minnesota.
After a warm reception at the TD Garden, Jefferson had one of his roughest outings in a Utah uniform. The 6-10 big man only scored seven points with five rebounds against the team that drafted him out of the small Mississippi town of Prentiss in 2004.
That was a far cry from his first return to the Twin Cities a month ago, when his huge outing included 23 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots in a thrilling win.
Jefferson balked at the suggestion that being in Boston again factored into his struggles, which included 1-for-11 shooting.
"That's my fourth time playing back in Boston. There's no nerves," Jefferson said. "I just missed shots. It's just one of these nights. I had good looks, I had my shots and I missed."
Regardless of his current team's results here, Bean Town will always be a special spot for Jefferson.
"This the team that gave me my first job in the NBA," Jefferson said. "And for that I'll always have the utmost respect for this team."
While holding court for a group of mostly Boston-based media, Big Al reiterated his fondness for ending up in Utah after being traded from the T-Wolves.
"It's a wonderful situation, a wonderful offense for me," Jefferson said. "Coach (Jerry) Sloan has been amazing. D-Will is one of top point guards in this game and makes my job easier, so I couldn't ask for nothing else."
There is one downside, though.
And it's directly related to the team's three-game losing streak — and the other 13 defeats, for that matter.
"The one thing about now (is) when we do lose a game it hurts a lot more. It sticks with me," said Jefferson, who was only on one playoff team in six previous seasons. "You would think I was used to losing games, but now when we do lose one it feels a lot worse."