Jefferson entered the game averaging 12.3 points on 44-percent shooting. But he burned Lakers in crunch time as Utah snapped a three-game losing streak.
"… He's coming round," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "He's getting the timing of his shots. He's figuring out where guys are coming from [on defense] and where he can get one-on-one opportunities."
Jefferson scored eight points in the first quarter. He didn't score again until his reverse layup gave Utah an 83-72 lead with 5:11 remaining.
In between, however, Jefferson contributed to the Jazz's effort by battling Dwight Howard on defense.
Corbin noticed: "He really put forth an effort to help us [while] he was waiting for his offense to come. We're going to need that."
Howard finished with 19 points, but the Jazz put him on the free-throw line 12 times, usually before he could dunk the ball.
Jefferson was in the middle of the physical effort.
"I just tried to make things more difficult for him," he said. "… That's the kind of defense we've got to do."
With Utah nursing a 70-65 lead, Foye hit 3-point shots on three consecutive possessions to make it 79-68. When he finally missed, the Jazz turned to Jefferson.
After his reverse layup, he followed with a 13-foot jumper, a dunk and a 15-foot jump shot.
In a span of 21/2 minutes, his eight points enabled the Jazz to maintain an 89-78 lead and bought Utah enough time to hold off Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
"When we make shots like that," Corbin said, "it makes his post-up game a lot more [effective] because he'll get one-on-one opportunities."
"Any time you hit 3s the way Randy was, it's going to open it up inside," he said. "When Randy got hot, I saw more room to work. … The offense was clicking tonight and I think it started with the 3-point shooting."
Jefferson went 8-for-13 from the field in the first and fourth quarters. He went 0-for-5 in the second and third quarters.
"I started off in a good groove and then just missed my shots," Jefferson said. "I try not to beat myself up for missing shots I normally make and, in the fourth quarter, I got back in another good groove. Better late than never."
Hot start, fast finish
Al Jefferson's quarter-by-quarter statistics against the Lakers on Wednesday night:
Qtr Min FG-A FT-A Reb Ast Blk Pts
1st 11:41 4-8 0-0 2 0 0 8
2nd 7:13 0-2 0-0 4 2 0 0
3rd 9:09 0-3 0-0 3 0 0 0
4th 6:38 4-5 2-2 1 0 0 10