The Oklahoma City Thunder established a firm 20 point lead by the end of the third quarter, and cruised to victory over the Utah Jazz, 113-91. Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, and Enes Kanter all had more than 10 points and shot over 50%. Even Dion Waiters broke the 10 point barrier, and shot over 50% himself. On the other end, the Jazz hit just 5 of 22 attempts from three, and had 18 assists to 18 turnovers. The Jazz, tired from their back to back road trip, just couldn't put in the energy necessary to win the game.
Offensively, Utah lacked options. The Thunder made a concerted effort to deny the Utah Jazz at the rim, led by Steven Adams. Adams was a real force out there, denying guard drives to the rim and big man rolls. The Jazz were able to get open shots for Lyles, but he only hit them half the time. And Derrick Favors went just 1 of 5 outside the paint. Adams played a huge role in shutting down them both.
With those options out of the window, the Jazz mostly relied on their scoring guards to get things done. But Gordon Hayward was double-teamed around screens, and couldn't get any decent shots off. Rodney Hood had some effectiveness (2 of 5 from three), but was a huge weakness on defense against Dion Waiters and in mismatches. Trevor Booker had 9 and Jeff Withey had 8, mostly because they scored at the rim while the Thunder were doubling. Trey Burke had a meaningless garbage time run.
On the other end, the Thunder's offense was great after the first couple of quarters. Early on, Westbrook jacked up a few too many shots, and Kanter was getting consistently denied at the rim. But Westbrook heated up towards the end of the first half, scoring in the paint on a Jazz lineup that had Favors at center. Then Kanter finally got into the flow of the game against Jeff Withey in the third quarter. This really pushed the Thunder's offense over the edge. But Durant, Ibaka, Adams, and Waiters were contributing to the effort throughout. All of them doing what they usually do, but effortlessly because the Jazz don't have great defenders in those positions.
- Ibaka hit 2-4 from three, 1-1 from mid-range, and made a layup on a roll play. Ibaka's defense of Lyles wasn't fantastic, but Lyles was really talented. Excellent floaters.
- Durant had a couple of pull-up threes in transition, which were killer, along with some nice mismatch exploitation.
- Steven Adams finished all of his plays in the paint, as normal.
- Russell Westbrook would have likely triple-doubled tonight if he played his full slate of minutes. As it is, Westbrook was acceptably efficient. The Jazz interior and Mack's size gave Westbrook some tiny problems, but no major ones.
- Dion Waiters wasn't playing against the strongest opponents at shooting guard today in Rodney Hood and Chris Johnson. And Waiters made two of his threes in garbage time. But it was a really solid offensive performance from Waiters tonight regardless. I could live without the couple of contested mid-range twos Dion took. But Dion's excellent fast break play and couple of half-court drives were really fun to watch.
- Andre Roberson made a fast break dunk, missed a contested layup, and missed an open corner three off the side of the backboard. Roberson was essential to stopping Hood as well.
- Cameron Payne played a really nice game. Loved his difficult floater, as well as a shot at the rim over Gobert and a weak side score in the corner. Exactly what we need out of him. Payne also found Kanter in the post once for an assist. Encouraging, even thought not in a pick and roll.
- Randy Foye was 1 of 3 from three, finally hitting one out of the corner.
- Anthony Morrow played for 8 minutes, some during the second quarter. Morrow had an assist to Adams in the 2nd, just because the defense respected his corner three. It was a really nice play. Will be interesting to see if Morrow is the ninth man moving forward.
- Josh Huestis came in for cameo minutes, hitting a three and missing a pair of free throws. Still no idea what he brings to the table, though he's supposedly good at defense.
- Nazr Mohammed got some minutes, hitting a pair of free throws. Mohammed also dove on the floor to tip an offensive rebound to Dion Waiters for the three. That's dedication in garbage time!
- Kyle Singler sat out his third straight game with back issues. Donovan has mentioned that he's improving, whatever that means.
Thunder Wonder: Steven Adams, defensive pillar
Thunder Down Under: Kevin Durant, for being the offensive rock throughout
Thunder Blunder: Randy Foye, who's shooting has been pretty meh
Thunder Plunderer: Trey Lyles, who had some really classic floaters
Next Game: Versus the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, March 25th, 7 PM Central Daylight Time.
What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!