After a couple of games with the backcourt and especially Mo Williams setting the tone for the Utah Jazz, Al Jefferson went to work to bring back the dominance to what has been the team’s stronger unit over the last couple of years, the frontcourt, enjoying one of his more productive stretches of the season, coming at the perfect time.
Jefferson finished with 24 points, making it four consecutive games of at least 20, and five straight wins for the Jazz, who beat the collapsing Portland Trail Blazers 112-102. The Blazers are without LaMarcus Aldridge and the depth issues that plagued them all season seem minuscule when their best player isn’t on the floor, while a key one like Nicolas Batum keeps playing injured instead of getting some rest and maybe surgery.
But we like happy news, like the Jazz making an effort to finish ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for the last ticket in the Western playoff race. With the win over the Blazers, they’re 39-36, 0.5 game ahead of LA, having played one more, and enjoying the tiebreak advantage. The way Mo Williams has come back to life in the last few games, while Jefferson is going through the same process, only less surprising to others, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be keeping up this pace.
Williams finished with 20 points and 9 assists, as suddenly all the talk of not having a real point guard come flying out the window. Williams is averaging 22.7 points over the last three games, while shooting 56% from the field after going for under 44% this season so far. While he isn’t exactly the most reliable player at the position, it seems the shared workload between him and Randy Foye is going well in terms of shooting and running the game, while Derrick Favors (18 points off the bench) keeps showing why the Jazz see him as their future in the paint, and not the more expensive options of Jefferson and Millsap.
The road to the postseason isn’t easy, especially with the officials doing everything in their power to keep the Lakers alive in the race. Still, the Jazz are hitting the right kind of form at perfect timing. If Mo Williams continues to play like this while Al Jefferson doesn’t look bored and lazy again, a second consecutive postseason appearance should be what they end up with.