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Smack / Apr 25, 2012 / 5:09 am

Jazz beast Suns for playoff spot; Paul Pierce joins the D-League; Metta Gets His Punishment

Al Jefferson

Al Jefferson (photo. Bethany Gilbert)

You see that? That’s what all those people in Boston and Minnesota used to talk about; what all those people in Utah still talk about. Last night, that was Al Jefferson showing his entire skill set, showing why he should be right up there in the discussion with Andrew Bynum and whoever else you think might be the second-best center in the NBA behind Dwight Howard … In a game the Jazz needed to win to clinch the final playoff spot in the West and eliminate the Suns from contention, Jefferson put up 18 points and 16 rebounds to go with four assists and two blocks. Late in the fourth quarter Big Al scored eight straight, turning a competitive game into a double-digit lead and paving the way for Utah’s 100-88 victory. Parking in his favorite spot on the left block, Jefferson had a dunk, a turnaround jumper, a faceup J and a hook shot (and a hook shot!), capping a night where he was a force on the glass and defensively … It wasn’t just Jefferson, though. Paul Millsap had 26 points and 15 boards, and Derrick Favors posted 13 points, 11 boards and five blocks. They were just too big for Phoenix, and when the Jazz got out on the break, they were too fast … Salt Lake City was rockin’ so hard you could’ve convinced a senile Jazz fan that John Stockton and Karl Malone were back. The Jazz are going to be a fun team to watch in the playoffs — we wouldn’t be totally surprised if they knocked off the Spurs or OKC with their size and ball movement, provided guys like Devin Harris and Gordon Hayward hit their outside shots. Shaq said it can’t happen because nobody on the Jazz can do what Zach Randolph did in last year’s playoffs, but we can absolutely see Jefferson or Millsap going off … Kevin Harlan said Millsap is “probably the MVP of this Jazz team so far.” Dude, it’s the 65th game of a 66-game season. It’s OK to make a definitive statement … Serious question: Can you see Reggie Miller eventually doing what Mark Jackson did and going from the announce table straight to the NBA as a head coach? Like Jackson, Reggie was a high-IQ player who gets one or two chances a week to show off his X’s-and-O’s knowledge to any frustrated GM/owner that might be watching … LeBron, D-Wade, Chris Bosh, KG, Ray Allen and Rondo all got the night off for Heat/Celtics, meaning TNT lost its gamble by keeping it on their national TV schedule. (Thunder/Kings tipped off at the same time and was a much better game.) Paul Pierce was out there with what looked like a D-League All-Star Game ballot, and he must have been having flashbacks to the bad ol’ days — especially when Boston went down 11-0 and didn’t score for the game’s first six minutes. But at least this time he knows there’s a light at the end of the tunnel … Pierce played less than 20 minutes and had almost as many turnovers (six) as points (eight). Boston found its rhythm in the second half and pulled away for the win behind Sasha Pavlovic, who scored 16 points. Did people really think LeBron was supposed to win a championship in Cleveland when he had guys like Pavlovic playing a prominent role on his team? … After the whole Ian Eagle incident, does anybody else kind of want to see Mike Fratello go a few rounds with Marv Albert during a broadcast? Mike should keep his guard up, though, because Marv will bite … Keep reading to hear how badly the NBA punished Metta World Peace…

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