The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Utah Jazz Sunday night, 95-73. In a game where Russell Westbrook took the night off, the Thunder had little trouble disposing of the reeling Jazz, who have fallen to a record of 1-14. The Thunder trailed the Jazz, 3-0, Kevin Durant hit a 3-pointer, and the Thunder never looked back. OKC was actually up by 37 points at one point, and the Jazz were sitting on a grand total of 43 points heading into the 4th quarter before 'erupting' for 30 points in the 4th, making the final deficit a respectable 22 point loss.
The Thunder were led by Durant, who scored 19 points in a coffee cup of a game, sitting out the 4th quarter as the Thunder poured it on. Serge Ibaka was dominant in the post, netting a 17-11 double-double. Also encouraging was the performance of Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones, who combined for 28 points on 12-20 shooting, including a 3-3 performance behind the arc for Jones.
The Jazz were led by Enes Kanter, who finished with 10 points.
Truth be told, this was a satisfying win for the Thunder because we have seen a fair share of games where their defense allowed weaker teams to stick around longer than they should have. Ever since last week's game against the Clippers, the Thunder defense has begun to demonstrate the pattern of good habits that made them one of the best in the league a year ago. Great defense makes everything else easier, and in this game it enabled the Thunder to give Durant the 4th quarter off, Westbrook the entire game off, and valuable minutes for the Thunder bench. Any time OKC can give guys like Lamb and Jones not just minutes but shot opportunities, they are helping those two guys build confidence to make shots when the games get more intense.
Aside from that, the less said about this game, the better. I kind of feel bad for the Jazz, who have gone from looking competitive against the Thunder on day 1 to looking like they're now in active competition for the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes.