The Washington Post

After chasing down Monta Ellis, Othyus Jeffers gets reunion in Utah

Monta Ellis was on a roll, taking and making circus shots, spinning around with the ease of someone hitting buttons on a video game. With Ellis having his way with the Wizards, and rookie Jordan Crawford in particular, Coach Flip Saunders decided to put Othyus Jeffers on him.

Jeffers had just signed his second 10-day contract with the Wizards on Sunday and was already excited about having the opportunity to stick around for a while longer. So, when he was assigned Ellis, Jeffers brought that enthusiasm to the electrifying scorer. He pressured him, got up on him, and made him work for his points. After scoring 33 points in the first three quarters, Ellis had just four in the fourth with Jeffers hounding him.

“He asked me to go out there and contain him,” Jeffers said of Saunders. “I thought [Ellis] got a lot of things easy, so I tried to mix him up and pick him up, 94 feet to throw him off a little bit. It worked for a little bit, but we broke down defensively some.”

Ellis didn’t score much in the final period, but he did hand out three assists, with two coming during the decisive 14-3 run that turned a one-point game into a 108-96 lead for the Warriors. “I gave him a different look. Got in his face,” Jeffers said. “It slowed him down for a good period of time, but once they realized what we were doing, they kind of changed their game plan. You could kind of see we ran out of juice a little bit. But [Monday] is another game and we’re looking to win that.”

Monday isn’t just any game for Jeffers since it will serve as a reunion against his former team, the Utah Jazz. Jeffers averaged 2.6 points in 14 games with Jazz last season. He also appeared in six playoff games.

“It’s kind of like going home pretty much,” Jeffers said. “My first start in the NBA. A wonderful franchise, a wonderful organization. They gave me an opportunity to showcase my talents, which could’ve led to me being here.”

Jeffers said it would be different to return to Utah without legendary coach Jerry Sloan on the sideline. Sloan stepped down earlier this season after 23 years with the Jazz. “I was only there for a little bit. I had a different relationship with him. It was do your job pretty much, and I respect him for that, because he didn’t look at me as an undersized person, or somebody that you can’t do this or you can’t do that. If you work hard, you get rewarded and you can only respect that from a man.”

He added that he was just happy to have a great day on Sunday, as he got to hang on in the NBA and held his own, somewhat against Ellis. “That was a great first part of my day,” Jeffers said of signing his second 10-day contract. “The second part, I got to play ball and guard one of the top scorers in the league. I felt I did a good job, containing him for a little bit.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.


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