The Jazz came into the Ford Center to face the Thunder for the 3rd and final game of Oklahoma City's homestand which saw them notch a victory over one of the leagues best teams, the San Antonio Spurs. The conclusion to the homestand, didn't go quite as well. In fact it was more like the middle game of the homestand which the Thunder lost Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls. All three teams the Thunder faced this week are either entrenched in the playoffs already, or are fighting for their playoff lives. So despite the Thunder going 1-2 this week at home, the way they competed and held their own against these playoff caliber teams is something that Thunder fans should be proud of and even more excited than they already are about this teams future.
Deron Williams was the man tonight for the Jazz, especially in a very competitive second half. He scored 20 of his team high 24 points in the second half. Add to that 11 assists, and you have a pretty dominating performance, one that would lead a Utah Jazz win. If it weren't for Williams second half play, the Thunder likely could have gotten the score closer, and quite possibly even won this game. The Thunder actually outscored the Jazz in the 2nd half 54-52, and if they could have found a way to keep Williams under control, Oklahoma City might have been able to walk away with the win.
Kevin Durant (nothing new here), once again, lead the way for the Thunder with a double double scoring 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds to go with 5 assists, 1 steal, and 1 blocked shot. The big negative on his stat line was 6 turnovers, which helped the Thunder to a whopping 18 turnovers tonight, compared to 10 for the Jazz. As these young guys get older, it will be a welcome site to see these high turnover totals settle down, because thats one of the bigger things holding this team back. Russell Westbrook added 22 points and 3 rebounds, but only amassed 4 assists.
Nick Collison and Nenad Krstic again proved to be a solid combo inside as they combined to score 21 points and grab 16 rebounds. Nick Collison has been superb at coming off the bench and being productive. It seems like every night he closes in on or gets a double double from his play around the basket. While it would be nice to have a that one big man in the middle that this team has been looking for, for seemingly ever (back to Seattle days), its nice to have a two-man combination that is being productive on a night in night out basis.
Ultimately the turnovers and a dominating second quarter by the Jazz doomed the Thunder tonight, and although they stayed within striking distance the rest of the night, were in too big a hole to ever climb out of, especially with Deron's performance after halftime. The Thunder will head out to Minnesota on Sunday to take on the T-Wolves in a rare afternoon game. Tipoff is set for 2pm. Also, don't forget to check back tonight for a live blog from the Tulsa 66ers game, where WTLC will try to get some good pics and impressions up of Thunder Rookie DJ White in action at the Spirit Bank Event Center. If you are in or around the Tulsa area, the 66ers have two home games this weekend, and with the lineup they are currently throwing on the floor, you couldn't pick a better time to go see this team play....especially tonight since its $2 Beer, and $1 Hotdog night.