Big Al may frustrate Jazz fans (at times) with his lack of defense, but few would disagree when I say his offensive game of late has been absolutely superb. As such the NBA rewarded the 6-foot-10, 289-pound center with his first ever (at least as a Utah Jazz) player of the week award earlier today, according to the Deseret News.
The honor is well past due, in my opinion. And those who read this blog will know I haven’t exactly heaped praise upon Big Al’s game, especially earlier in the season where his isolated scoring hampered more than helped an ailing Jazz squad.
Big Al’s recent ascension to the top of the pack came about due to a more team oriented style of basketball, though, with Jefferson passing out of double teams instead of forcing shots; anddoing his damndest to get teammates involved during key moments in big games (witness that nice assist to Devin Harris against the Magic in overtime – can you say 3-point game clincher).
In late game situations against Dallas and Orlando, Big Al delivered in a big way. Against the Mavericks Jefferson nailed a decisive six foot jumper in triple OT to give his team a 120-115 advantage with just over a minute left to play. Utah subsequently won that game 123-121, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive and kicking. (Jefferson also posted an astonishing 26 rebounds in that game – truly one of the greatest rebounding performances for a Jazz player EVER.)
Against Orlando on Saturday, Jefferson hit six points in the fourth quarter, including a 12-foot jumper with 21 seconds left in regulation that sent the game into overtime where the Jazz eventually ran away with a wild 117-107 victory.
All the man has to do to close out the season strong is post similar numbers against Phoenix tomorrow night (in a game that would secure Utah its first ever playoff berth in the Corbin-era should they win).
No small feat, but they don’t call him Big Al for nothing.