Schroder scores 27 off bench, Thunder dominate Jazz 104-90
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Dennis Schroder's basketball identity is built on being aggressive at both ends of the court.
Schroder is flourishing in his sixth man role because he goes into attack mode and never stops. That paid off again for the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 104-90 victory over the Utah Jazz on Monday night.
Schroder’s 27 points paced a Thunder second unit that outscored the Jazz reserves 45-23 in bench points. Schroder also made plenty of noise on the defensive end, pressuring multiple players into low-percentage shots and creating a turnover-friendly environment for a Utah team prone to making turnovers in bunches.
“I just try to impact the game when I get in,” said Schroder, who set his career-high of 41 points in a game against the Jazz last season. “Try to make the right plays offensively and defensively. It's just energy coming in and playing with pace.”
The Thunder shot 47% from the field after getting a big lift from the bench. It marked the 19th time in 23 games Oklahoma City has outscored its opponent in bench points. Schroder has led the bench in scoring in 19 of those contests.
“It's probably not talked enough about how selfless Dennis is,” Paul said. “Dennis a starter in this league on just about any other team. He's a star in his role and that's why our bench is so good.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points to lead the Jazz. Rudy Gobert added 19 points and 17 rebounds.
The Jazz shot just 40% from the field and had just seven baskets in the third quarter when the Thunder pulled away for good.
Utah lost for the sixth time in eight games and finds itself mired in an early season slow start yet again.
“It's kind of like a here-we-go-again situation,” Mitchell said. “It's only my third year, so I'm still trying to figure things out as well ... the biggest thing is to stick with it and trust. I ain't got much else to say besides that.”
Utah and Oklahoma City traded big runs in the first half.
The Jazz surged ahead 24-19 late in the first quarter on the strength of a 13-2 run. Gobert highlighted the spurt with back-to-back baskets — part of the 14 points he scored before halftime.
The Thunder answered with a 18-5 run that extended into the second quarter. Schroder got things going with a pair of baskets before the first quarter ended. Paul capped it off with back-to-back baskets, giving Oklahoma City a 37-29 lead.
Oklahoma City stayed in front for the remainder of the game. The Thunder opened their first double-digit lead in the third quarter, going up 85-65 behind a 19-4 run. Schroder did most of the damage during the outburst, scoring four total baskets. His driving layup ignited the run and his third 3-pointer of the game finished it.
“We want to make sure he stays aggressive,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “He can get to his spots. He kind of knows what his shots are and his spots are. … We just want him to play with confidence. The team believes in him. I believe in him.”
Dealing with an injury-depleted roster, Donovan played guard Luguentz Dort 20-plus minutes for the second straight game. Dort made the most of his time on the court. The rookie, who is on a two-way contract, finished with a career-high nine points and a pair of rebounds in 29 minutes.
He is averaging 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds on Oklahoma City's current road trip.
“You wouldn't know he's a rookie, the way he's competing,” Paul said. “You just have to be ready when your name is called, and he's been unbelievable.”
NO FOUL ZONE
Utah shot just 12 free throws, matching a season-low. The Jazz had zero attempts in the fourth quarter. The inability to get to the foul line summed up a game in which the Jazz were low on energy and lacked aggressiveness in the second half. Utah turned the ball over frequently on drives to the basket or just settled for mediocre outside shots.
“Our decision making, collectively, that's where we need to come together and help each other on the offensive end,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “At the same time, we need to impose our will on the game, on that end.”
Thunder: Danilo Gallinari did not play because of a left ankle sprain. Terrance Ferguson also missed his third straight game because of right hip soreness. ... Darius Bazley collected a career-high seven rebounds. ... Oklahoma City forced 15 turnovers and scored 19 points off those miscues.
Jazz: Mike Conley missed his third straight game with left hamstring tightness. … The Jazz did not allow any second-chance points over the first three quarters. … Bojan Bogdanovic shot just 4 of 17 from the field. … Joe Ingles finished with a game-high eight assists. Ingles is averaging 7.0 assists over his last five games.
Thunder: At the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
Jazz: At the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.