Utah Jazz: Al Jefferson leads Jazz over Pacers for Ty Corbin's first win as head coach
INDIANAPOLIS — Oh, what a night Friday was for the Utah Jazz.
It was a fun homecoming night for Gordon Hayward.
It was an eagerly anticipated premiere night for Devin Harris and Derrick Favors.
It was one heck of a productive night for Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and the Jazz defense.
It was a historic night for the Jazz's new head coach, Ty Corbin.
It was a much-needed night for a roughed-up and restructured team that has suffered something fierce the past few weeks, if not months.
And did we mention it was also a winning night for the Jazz, who stymied the high-flying Indiana Pacers, 95-84, at Conseco Fieldhouse for a desperately needed victory?
Yeah, that made everybody's night in the lively and laughter-filled Utah locker room.
"It was great. It was big," Corbin said after winning for the first time as the Jazz's bench boss since replacing Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan 16 days and four losses ago.
"All of the stuff that's happened the last couple of weeks to this team and the changes that we've made, the adversity that we've faced, they hung in there," Corbin added. "They kept working. They kept getting better, and it showed tonight. So it's good to finally see some rewards from all of the hard work that we've done."
The Jazz came out playing with an energetic enthusiasm that's been missing for quite some time, helping them snap a five-game losing streak and win for just the fifth time in the past 19 games.
"It seems like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders, getting that first win (in a while)," Millsap said. "Tonight was for Ty to get his first win under his belt. Hopefully, this can start a streak of wins for us."
Defense sparked 32-27 Utah early on, with the Jazz holding the Pacers to a season opponent-low 13 points in the first quarter en route to a rare and early double-digit lead.
The 26-31 Pacers, who had scored 100-plus in 11 straight games, rallied to take a small lead in the second half. But Utah tightened its defense up again — while getting some big-time offensive performances from Jefferson (30 points, nine rebounds) and Millsap (23 points, 18 boards).
"We helped each other (on defense) and this is what we're going to need going forward," Corbin said. "We've got to have the same effort every night."
The very active Utah squad was sparked by everybody from rookie Favors to veterans like Big Al (five blocks), Andrei Kirilenko (two steals) and C.J. Miles (two swats). The Jazz, playing a stingy effort that thrilled Corbin and would've pleased a certain defensive-preaching coach, blocked 13 Pacer shots and limited Indiana to just 34.8 percent shooting.
"It's a little bit of a whirlwind, but we got the job done," Harris said after his Jazz debut, which included 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes. "We got off to a good start and (were) defensively very active, and it continued throughout the game."
Corbin said the key was being "aggressive" and playing together.
The new coach, who's now 1-4, was also pleased with his new pair of players. Harris played like a savvy veteran after coming off the bench, and Favors gave Utah some very good minutes and especially on the defensive end of the court.
"Devin and Derrick came in and did a great job (despite) not knowing a lot of the plays," Corbin said. "The effort was great."
Favors finished with six points — second-most off the bench after Harris — and grabbed three rebounds with a blocked shot.
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