SALT LAKE CITY — With two key players out of the lineup with minor injuries, the Utah Jazz needed a little extra help Monday night against the Charlotte Hornets.
No one stepped up more than Thabo Sefolosha, who finished with a season-high 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range, while playing a season-high 22 minutes in Utah’s 111-102 victory.
A throng of media surrounded 34-year-old Swiss forward as he finished getting dressed in the Jazz locker room, when he suddenly slipped through the horde, never to return. The normally obliging Sefolosha apparently wasn't anxious to talk about himself for one of the few times he was wanted by the media all season, so it was left for his coach and teammates to do the talking for him.
“He played well, Thabo’s shots were huge tonight,” said coach Quin Snyder. “Thabo was playing really well before he got hurt (earlier in the season) and sometimes it takes a little time. His effort on the defensive end is where he can really make a difference for us. He’s going to get open looks with Rudy (Gobert) rolling and people keying on Donovan (Mitchell) and Joe (Ingles) a lot of times.”
“He made shots and that’s great, but it’s not all about the shots, it’s the way he got open and the way he played tonight,” said Ricky Rubio.
Ingles said Sefolosha filled in nicely at the 4 spot with forward Derrick Favors missing the game with back spasms.
“He was great,” said Ingles of Sefolosha. “There were a lot more minutes at the 4 and he was able to make some shots. And defensively he was really good and that’s what our team does when we need someone to step up.”
“Thabo came out and played great ... guys step up all the time and it’s just another instance of that,” added Mitchell.
Each of the aforementioned players had strong games as Mitchell led the Jazz scoring with 25 points, Rubio had 20 points and 13 assists and Ingles hit 5 of 8 3-pointers for 15 points.1 comment on this story
Sefolosha scored five points early in the third quarter and then added three more 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter when Charlotte was making a comeback behind the hot shooting of Kemba Walker, who scored 38 of his 47 points in the second half.
Besides Sefolosha’s 14 points, the Jazz also got nine points from Royce O’Neale and solid contributions from Raul Neto, Georges Niang and Ekpe Udoh.
“We played 10 guys and everybody that steps on the floor knows who they are and what they can contribute to the team,” said Snyder. “The whole group was ready to play and played together.”