Thunder 101, Jazz 87
With the Jazz focusing their attention on Kevin Durant, Russell
Westbrook was more than happy to be the star of the show.
”I was working on my shot all summer and I had lots of
opportunities to shoot it tonight,” Westbrook said. ”I had
openings I needed to take advantage of.”
There were times Durant barely crossed halfcourt when Westbrook
was already flying toward the hoop or spotting up for a jumper on
his way to 28 points and helping the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the
Utah Jazz 101-87 on Friday night.
The Thunder improved to 5-1 in games after a loss.
”This is what good teams do. We lost a tough one last night but
we came in here and played a tough Utah team in their arena and
come out with a win. That’s a good sign,” said Durant, who had 19
points the night after losing to Sacramento 106-101.
With Oklahoma City’s win, the Thunder (21-6) have clinched the
best record in the conference through games played Feb. 15, meaning
coach Scott Brooks will lead the Western Conference All-Stars for
the game on Sunday, Feb. 26, in Orlando, Fla.
”That’s great for our team and our organization. I feel truly
blessed to be a part of what’s going on with the Thunder right
now,” Westbrook said.
The Jazz appeared determined to limit Durant’s offense – he had
only 10 field goal attempts – but Westbrook found extra room to
drive to the basket and created some fast breaks with five
”I was taking what the defense was giving me,” Westbrook
Serge Ibaka had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Kendrick Perkins
added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Jazz’s big men often helped on Westbrook and Durant,
allowing the Thunder to out-rebound Utah 46-32.
”Their bigs did a good job inside and between the two of them,
they had eight offensive rebounds and that hurt us,” Utah coach Ty
Al Jefferson led Utah with 20 points and Raja Bell and Gordon
Hayward each had 13 points, but the Jazz dropped their fifth game
in their past six.
Once Utah’s reserves drew to 78-73 early in the fourth quarter,
the Thunder answered with a 7-0 run, capped by Nick Collison’s
The Thunder finished their road trip with a 3-2 record.
Oklahoma City trailed for much of the first half until Durant
scored on both ends of a 10-0 run that gave the Thunder a 46-40
lead with 2:15 until halftime.
”We didn’t have a lot of things going for us early but we
fought and stuck together,” Brooks said. ”The way we finished the
game was good basketball.”
Though they have played the most road games in the Western
Conference, the Thunder have compiled a 12-5 away record and looked
fresh in the fourth quarter, relentlessly crowding the Jazz on
The Jazz, meanwhile, have played 16 games at home (11-5) and the
offense is beginning to sputter no matter where they are
Utah hasn’t reached 100 points in its past four outings and
didn’t get close Friday – even though the Thunder had given up at
least 106 points on each of the other four games of the road
”They were aggressive and we got stuck in one mode and were
never able to transition into something else to see what would
happen,” Bell said.
The Jazz took their last lead at 58-56 on Jefferson’s jumper
with 7:28 left in the third. But Westbrook scored six in a 16-4 run
to boost the Thunder to a 72-62 lead.
In a three-minute span in the first half, Earl Watson found C.J.
Miles for three alley-oop dunks with Durant trailing the plays. But
the Thunder found their defensive stride in the second half.
”We gave up some easy baskets early but we locked down after
that and didn’t let them have what they wanted,” Durant said.
The game marked one year since the abrupt resignation of
longtime Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and the hiring of Ty Corbin. Corbin
is 21-32 as a head coach.
NOTES: The Jazz signed free agent forward DeMarre Carroll on
Thursday after Denver waived him, but he did not dress. … Thabo
Sefolosha missed his eighth game with a sore right foot. …
Westbrook has averaged more than 30 points against the Jazz in the
past three games. … Paul Millsap was averaging 25.5 points on
64.1 percent shooting in his past four games against the Thunder
before going 4 of 15 for just 10 points in this one.