The Oklahoma City Thunder have been searching for a full 48 minutes of consistent play on both ends all season. The Thunder got a glimpse of what that looks like on Wednesday with a wire-to-wire 107-79 victory over the Utah Jazz. The Thunder led by double-digits for a majority of the game, leading by as many as 33. The victory put the Thunder over .500 at 16-15 on the season.
Russell Westbrook set the tone from the opening tip on both ends of the floor. Westbrook opened the game looking to be the unstoppable offensive force that led the league in scoring last season and played the ball-hawking defense that we knew he is capable of. Russ's play seemed to light a fire under the rest of the team and the Thunder played as well on both ends as we have seen all season.
The Thunder immediately jumped out to a 19-3 lead in the first quarter, similar to what Thunder fans have seen many times this season. However, there were fwer defensive lapses, there was not a time in this game where the Thunder let their foot off the gas. The Thunder led 25-9 after the first quarter, led by Westbrook's 14 points.
The Jazz went on a 14-6 run early in the 2nd quarter, getting the lead to single digits. The Thunder led 31-23 when Westbrook subbed back into the game. Russ ramped the pace back to where the Thunder needed it and immediately led the Thunder to an 11-0 run to push the lead to 19. During the run, Russ threw a perfect alley-oop pass to Jerami Grant, knocked down a mid-range shot in transition, found Paul George for a three and also threw down a monster slam that rocked the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder led 53-37 at the halftime break.
The third quarter has been a disaster for the Thunder throughout the season. Tonight, the Thunder defense turned it up a notch as the third quarter began. Offensively, the Thunder were making an extended effort at finding the best shot. Five different players assisted on field goals in the third quarter alone. It did not seem to matter who took the shot tonight, as long as it was the best shot. The Thunder lead extended to 33 late in the quarter and they led 87-60 after three quarters.
The Thunder had the game wrapped up by the start of the 4th quarter and they were able to rest their starters. The Thunder bench played the remainder of the 4th quarter and kept the same energy as the previous three quarters.
The Thunder shot an exceptional 51% from the field and assisted on 23 out of 40 made field goals. They outrebounded the Jazz 42-39 and also forced 19 turnovers. The Thunder shot extremely well from the free throw line, hitting 19 out of 22 from the line (86%). They also dominated in the paint 50-30.
Westbrook fueled the Thunder attack with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting, along with 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Carmelo Anthony scored 18 on 5-of-12 shooting. PG put in 18 points including a poster slam on Derrick Favors head. Steven Adams chipped in 11 points and 9 rebounds. Grant scored 11 points off the bench, including multiple rim-rattling jams. The Thunder bench scored 30 points on the night.
Rodney Hood scored 17 points to lead the Jazz. Alec Burks pitched in 14 points and Thabo Sefolosha put in 12 points.
The Thunder return to action at home on Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks.