01/07/2011 - 13:06
Post Master General
Big Al Jefferson was on the court for most of the game on Wednesday night, recording a team-high 37 minutes as the Utah Jazz saw their winning streak snapped by the Atlanta Hawks.
The extended court time came about because for the first time this season, Al was without his partner in crime, Paul Millsap, who missed the game due to a bruised right hip. That meant Al shouldered much of the duty in the post.
Good thing No. 25 has some of the best post moves in the game, as Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune writes:
The 6-foot-10, 280-pound Jefferson appears in person neither as tall nor as large as records indicate. And it is precisely his lack of height and size that have forced him to rely upon everything from an unforgiving, highly tempting pump fake to a variety of back-to-the basket, spin-and-roll sets as he has evolved from a straight-out-of-high-school standout into one of the most productive post players in the league during the last seven years.
"Ain't too many people out here in the league right now that kind of got that old-school game like I have it," said Jefferson, who grew up idolizing Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O'Neal.
He added: "It kind of makes me feel good. I'm a unique player. Everybody, when they hear my name, they know what type of game I got."
To develop that game, Jefferson initially had to steal, borrow and learn from the best.
Smith writes of how Big Al has adapted his game, from watching tape of Moses Malone with then coach Doc Rivers in Boston, to late night shooting sessions with Paul Pierce when he was a Celtic. But there's one smooth trait about Al's game that he was born with, Smith concludes:
Then there is the touch. Able to consistently drop in everything from half hook shots to 18-foot jumpers, Jefferson has one of the softest shots in the league. The arc, feel and hands that release each attempt were not stolen or borrowed, though. They were naturally delivered.
"I'm blessed with that, man," Jefferson said. "I've got to give credit to the good lord above for that."
To read Smith's entire article, a fantastic piece about how Big Al discovered and molded his game, click here.
Al posted his 11th straight game in double digits scoring on Wednesday night, but the Jazz saw their winning streak snapped on their home floor.
Though Big Al scored 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds, Utah couldn't conjure up any second half magic at EnergySolutions Arena. After falling in another deep first half hole, they lost to the Atlanta Hawks 110-87.
The Jazz trailed by 14 at the half and though they have overcome larger deficits in the second half on numerous occasions this year, that was not the case on Wednesday. Early in the season, Al eluded to the fact that the Jazz couldn't get by falling behind in the first half all season.
"We can't continue to do that," No. 25 said. "These teams are too good to let us get down 18, 19 points and have to fight back every night. We have to play the way we play in the second half at the beginning of the game."
Teammate Deron Williams echoed those sentiments to the Salt Lake Tribune after the loss:
"You can do it every now and then. We've done it a lot in this short season," Williams said. "But you can't rely on it. I don't think any coach in America has a game plan to get down by 15 and come back every game."
Big Al said the loss is something he and the Jazz will certainly learn from:
"They wanted it badder than we did," he told the Deseret News. "Every mistake that we made, they benefited from. It was just one of them games that we've got to learn from."
Utah is back in action tonight with a quick opportunity to put a tough loss behind them.
"Regardless of where we play, the next game has to be better," No. 25 said. "We can't play the way we played (Wednesday) at home or on the road. We just have to be better."
The Jazz, who have not lost two straight games since the first two of the year, take on the Grizzlies Friday night. It's the second time this week the two teams have met and this time it's in Memphis. Al scored 11 points in Utah's 98-92 win at home last Saturday.
Game time is 6 p.m. MST and you can catch all the action on FSN.
- Beast in the post: Jefferson breaks down his game (Salt Lake Tribune, January 7, 2011)
- Utah Jazz need overall improvement to post wins (Deseret News, January 6, 2011)
- Hawks swoop down and embarrass Jazz (Deseret News, January 6, 2011)
- Williams says slow starts are becoming the norm (Salt Lake Tribune, January 7, 2011)
- Al's Jazz are Cardiac Kids (AlJefferson25.com, November 13, 2010)
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