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Jefferson, Millsap lead Jazz past Pacers in overtime

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Associated Press
1/27/2013 12:54:07 AM
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SALT LAKE CITY -- Gordon Hayward had his right arm in a sling as he sat in front of his locker, hampered by a sprained shoulder.

This was one rough night for the reserve swingman. But at least it was a winning one.

Al Jefferson scored 25 points and Paul Millsap had 21, leading the Utah Jazz to a 114-110 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

Utah scored the first six points in overtime after blowing a 97-89 lead with 2:44 left in regulation. Hayward coughed up three turnovers to George Hill in the final minute of the fourth.

"I rushed things a little bit too much," Hayward said. "You got to give them credit. Good defensive plays for sure. My teammates bailed me out for sure."

Paul George scored 24 points, David West added 23 and Hill had 22 for Indiana (26-18), which lost for the third time in four road games. The Pacers outrebounded the Jazz 41-28.

Hayward scored 15 points, but had the ball stolen from him three times on the final three possessions for Utah in regulation.

The Jazz held a 98-94 lead when Hill stepped in front of Hayward's attempted pass to Jefferson and took it in for layup to cut the lead to two. Hill picked Hayward's pocket again a few seconds later, leading to George's tying free throws with 9.5 seconds left.

Utah still had a time for a potential winning shot, but never got a chance to run a play after Hill stole the ball from Hayward a third time to force overtime.

The Jazz bounced back by making five consecutive baskets to open the overtime period. The final one, a long jumper from Jefferson, gave the Jazz a 108-102 lead with 1:51 remaining.

Utah stayed one step ahead on offence throughout the game and ended up shooting 53 per cent from the field.

"We have to tighten the screws on defence," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "We put 90 per cent of our emphasis into riding the ship on the offensive end. You reach a point where you realize you have to tighten the screws. It's tough to beat good teams in their buildings when you aren't tied together on defence."

The Pacers pulled within three on a 3-pointer by George with 30.6 seconds left. Hayward blocked George when he tried another 3 on Indiana's next possession. Randy Foye then sank a pair of free throws with 6.4 seconds to go to seal the win.

"They still made it tough," Jefferson said. "Even when we thought we had the game won, they made something out of nothing every time."

After a listless second quarter, the Jazz bounced back in the third. Utah neutralized Indiana's advantage on the glass by attacking the rim and forcing the Pacers to settle for outside shots.

It paid off when the Jazz put together a 9-0 run capped by Derrick Favours' dunk off a lob pass from Earl Watson, putting Utah in front 69-59 late in the quarter.

Indiana put together a couple of rallies, but Utah had a response for each charge - until the Pacers' final surge to force overtime.

Hill's jumper trimmed the Jazz's lead to 73-68, but Hayward closed the third with a three-point play and Favours scored on the first play of the fourth to push the lead back to 10.

The Pacers trimmed the lead to three on Roy Hibbert's basket with 4:22 left. Then Jefferson took over, making a free throw and a pair of baskets to increase Utah's advantage to eight.

NOTES: Hayward sprained his shoulder on a hard screen. X-rays were negative and he is day to day. ... Indiana shot 62.5 per cent (20 of 32) from the field in the first half. ... Hibbert finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. ... Utah went 3 for 10 from 3-point range, compared to 7 for 21 for Indiana.

Al Jefferson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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