The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Utah Jazz Saturday afternoon, 112-104. Russell Westbrook notched his 32nd triple-double of the season and the Thunder got their second consecutive big win in a row over a potential playoff opponent. The Jazz, sitting 4th in the standings, have surged forward this season, but OKC, despite its struggles, this year, have now defeated the Jazz 3 out of 4 times to win the regular season series.
In a game that was similar to OKC’s previous win over the Jazz, the Thunder used an all-around team effort through 3 quarters and found just enough at the end to hold off the Jazz. Despite Westbrook’s struggles with his shot for much of the game (9-26, 3-10 from 3-point range), he finished with 14 assists and 11 rebounds, to go along with 2 steals and 2 blocks. His back court mate Victor Oladipo played strong throughout, finishing with 22 points on 8-15 shooting, including 3-6 from 3-point range. Both players were able to exploit the defensive middle of the Jazz, who were playing without their defensive stalwart Rudy Gobert.
With OKC’s 4 game losing streak now in the rearview mirror, and they now riding high on two impressive wins against the Spurs and Jazz, it is now incumbent on the team to maintain their focus, particularly on the defensive end. And as we saw this afternoon, even a brief letup can let good teams back in the games, but it was a rare treat that the team did not need Westbrook heroics to save the day this time out.
- The Jazz played pretty well, all told. They shot 48% from the floor and 45% from 3-point range, while getting to the line 28 times. Gobert’s absence was clearly felt on the defensive end of things, but between bench players Alec Burks and Dante Exum, there was enough offense there to steal a road win in OKC.
- Where Utah was really hurt on offense was an ineffective Gordon Hayward, who struggled to get any separation while he was being hounded by Andre Roberson. Hayward only got 9 shots up in the outing, missing the open ones he got.
- Speaking of Robes, after he knocked down a triple, he celebrated with Enes Kanter by doing the salt bae. I approve.
- Also speaking of Robes, keep practicing those free throws, please.
- One item of concern - Taj Gibson left the game early after losing his footing and apparently tweaking something in his hip or back. The impact was notable, as the Thunder offense struggled greatly and were outscored by the Jazz 46-34 for the rest of the game. On an individual basis, Gibson finished with 15 points on 7-9 shooting in 22 minutes.
- Aside from Kanter’s 16-6 output, the bench really struggled, particularly in relation to Exum and Burks. Kanter was repeatedly attacked on defense, which led to 44 points in the paint by the Jazz. Furthermore, Semaj Christon had a rough outing, missing all 5 of his shots and finishing with a team-worst -12 plus/minus.
- Even with these negative takeaways, this was still an impressive win, and one that OKC can build on, especially with the way they defended in the 1st half.
- Exclamation point.
Russell Westbrook today.— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 11, 2017
33p-14a-11r triple-double and this ❗️ in the closing seconds. pic.twitter.com/l0Ev9BPeuc
Manhattan, in case you were wondering.