SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA has rewarded Al Jefferson for his recent play, which has helped put the Utah Jazz on the doorstep of the playoffs.
Jefferson has been named the NBA's Western Conference player of the week for games played from April 16-22. During that period, Big Al had three double-doubles, averaging 20 points and 15.3 rebounds, and played a key role in the Jazz winning three straight and improving to the No. 8 spot out West.
Miami's Lebron James, who averaged 31 points and 58 percent shooting last week, earned the Eastern Conference player of the week honor.
This is the first time a Jazz player has been recognized this season, and it's Jefferson's fourth player of the week award in his eight-year career. Jefferson's best game of the week came in Monday's triple-overtime victory in which he hauled in a career-high-tying 26 rebounds to go with 28 points against the Mavericks.
The award hadn't been announced at Jazz practice this morning, but Jefferson's focus was solely on winning Tuesday night's home game against Phoenix.
If the Jazz beat the Suns, they will return to the playoffs. Because Phoenix has the tiebreaker, however, if Utah loses, it has to hope the Suns fall against San Antonio and then the Jazz must beat Portland on Thursday.
"That's the way it is," Jefferson said. "Just go our there, play the way we've been playing and try to get a victory."
Jefferson hasn't been to the playoffs since his rookie season in Boston seven years ago.
"It would mean a lot. That's why I really ain't even been thinking about it," Jefferson said. "I just want to take care of it and then you can ask me all the questions you want about that."
Tuesday's play-in game was picked up by TNT, so it will be an 8:30 p.m. tipoff. The game will not be televised on ROOT Sports.
It's still uncertain whether Steve Nash-led Phoenix will have injured players Channing Frye and Grant Hill available.
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