Jazz edge Kings 103-102 on Jefferson's putback
The Jazz went almost 9 minutes without a basket in the fourth quarter and blew a 14-point second-half lead before Jefferson bailed them out with the game-winner to silence the crowd.
Jefferson finished with 26 points and seven rebounds, Derrick Favors added 12 points and 10 rebounds and Gordon Hayward scored 18 points for Utah, which remained one-half game behind Houston for eighth place in the Western Conference.
Tyreke Evans scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Kings. Marcus Thornton added 22 points and 18 rebounds, but shot an airball on his 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
Sacramento took the lead twice in the final 28 seconds but left Jefferson alone under the basket after Kings center DeMarcus Cousins left to try to block Devin Harris from the right baseline.
Harris, whose 17-foot jumper earlier had given Utah a 99-97 lead with 1:06 to go, said after the game he was trying to pass the ball to Jefferson all along. The official scorekeeper ruled it a shot.
Jefferson went 13 for 19 from the floor for the Jazz, who have won five straight.
Utah won despite a long scoring drought to begin the fourth quarter when the scored only eight points, six coming on free throws. The Jazz ended the skid by making four shots in the final 96 seconds to stay close to Houston in the race for the No. 8 seed in the West.
Utah limped into the game without several key players. The Jazz lost forward Josh Howard to a possible season-ending knee injury earlier in the week and was also without reserves Earl Watson (sprained left ankle) and Raja Bell (strained right adductor).
It didn't seem to bother them much against Sacramento, which started off well but went through a big slump in the second and third quarters to fall behind.
Evans nearly rallied the Kings in his second game as reserve. He scored seven of Sacramento's first 15 points in the fourth quarter, including a behind-the-back layup that put the Kings up 96-95 with 3:11 left.
Thornton's free throw extended Sacramento's lead before Jefferson tied it at 97-all with a 17-foot jumper. Harris then put the Jazz up with his own 17-footer.
After Thornton's 3 put the Kings back on top, Alec Burks banked in a short off-balance jumper with 12.3 seconds left to give Utah the lead.
Thornton's driving layup with 4.1 seconds left gave Sacramento a 102-101 lead but the Kings failed to defend Jefferson at the other end.
Harris finished with 14 points and six assists for Utah while Paul Millsap had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Jefferson had 12 points in the first quarter and the Jazz closed the period on a 10-2 run to take a 30-26 lead. Jefferson also harassed Cousins defensively, forcing the Kings center into 2-of-10 shooting early.
Sacramento made only two shots over an 8-minute span before Evans provided a spark off the bench. Evans, who has been nursing a sprained left ankle, scored six straight points and Jimmer Fredette made a 3-pointer to pull the Kings within 42-35.
Evans made his first five shots and had 12 points in the first half but Utah still led 58-48 at the break.
The Jazz, who went into the night with only six road wins, led by 14 in the third quarter before Sacramento made its run in the fourth.
NOTES: Kings G/F Terrence Williams, who signed a 10-day contract on Wednesday, was not in uniform. ... Sacramento F Jason Thompson and Kings coach Keith Smart were both charged with technical fouls, Smart's coming in the fourth quarter.