The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Utah Jazz, 103-89. On the second night of a back to back, 24 hours after a barnburner at home against the hot-shooting Hawks, the Thunder displayed a workmanlike mentality throughout on a night where the shots weren’t falling as readily. Russell Westbrook led the charge again with another triple-double (his 11th), finishing with 27-10-10 against only 2 turnovers on the night. Paul George, who has been struggling as of late, broke out with a 26 point game on 10-17 shooting and once again terrorized the Jazz, grabbing 6 steals on the night to go along with 2 blocks. The Jazz were led by rookie Donovan Mitchell (who had missed the last game with injury), who finished with 29 points on 12-16 shooting.
A night after nearly melting down against a 7 win ball club in the 3rd quarter, OKC flexed its muscle on this night, winning that pivotal frame 29-21, which gave them the necessary cushion against a Jazz team that has great difficulty even operating cleanly against the Thunder defense. Once again Utah was without their center and anchor Rudy Gobert, whose absence undoubtedly had an impact (OKC had 15 ORBs). But really, if OKC plays to their level of ability (whatever that may be), the Jazz are going to have a difficult time scoring because they really only have one player in Mitchell who can consistently break down the defense off the dribble. Without that, OKC’s defensive wings will continue to cause trouble as they grabbed 9 steals on the night.
Perhaps the most optimistic thing you can say about this win was that the Thunder played consistently, not as dominantly as earlier in the week, but to their strengths, and that was enough for a 14 point win, on the road, on the 2nd night of a back to back. That’s a step in the right direction. OKC has now won 10 of their last 13, and a good time too, because The Beard is waiting.
- Westbrook recorded 2 assists in the final 38 seconds of the game to get his triple-double. Stat chaser, amirite?
- Carmelo Anthony cooled off quite a bit tonight, but mostly he was looking for the right kinds of shots off the pass instead of the dribble. He did finish 4-10 from 3-point range, and more importantly, defenses are starting to really crowd him out there. Should open up other opportunities, as Melo recorded 3 assists.
- Alex Abrines with some late game run, platooning with Andre Roberson down the stretch. Both guys seem to be having a rough time with it.
- This was a fun moment. With 4:31 remaining in the game, the Thunder were defending Mitchell and Westbrook poked the ball out of bounds. The rookie did something... and with the way the TV shot was framed, you slowly see Steven Adams turn and envelop the entire picture and look down on the guard like Adams was The Mountain from Game of Thrones.
Donovan Mitchell is a lot of things. Enough to take on Steven Adams is not one of them.— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) December 24, 2017
"You slap me one more time motherf*****..." pic.twitter.com/uXS3bw392l
- That said, the Thunder guys really like the kid. After the game was over, a number of them met with Mitchell and spoke to him at length, including Russell Westbrook, who in a rare move for him, had something he wanted to share with the rookie. I imagine it went something like, “Don’t stop...don’t stop...don’t stop beating the eggs until they really start to form soft peaks. That’s where the magic really happens in your souffle.”
Thunder wrap up the win. OK3 gives love to rookie Donovan Mitchell — including Russell Westbrook, who rarely ever does such a thing. pic.twitter.com/6AM4IJzzfG— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) December 24, 2017