6 Assists for Reggie Jackson on the night in addition to 20 points, five rebounds and four steals
13 Steals for the Thunder on the night, including two each from Andre Roberson and Jeremy Lamb
20-10 The Thunder’s advantage in fast break points on the night
21 Points scored by the Thunder off of 20 Jazz turnovers
25-31 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder, including 24-for-29 by Kevin Durant and Reggie Jackson combined
44-34 Points in the paint advantage for the Thunder, where it shot 22-for-40
48 Points for Kevin Durant, tying a season-high and the most any player has scored this year
Jan. 7th, 2014
SALT LAKE CITY – Early on, the Utah Jazz got open looks at the rim, but in the fourth quarter the Thunder came charging back.
Cutting what was once a 24-point deficit to just five with just under five minutes to go, the Thunder had the ball with a chance to cut the Jazz lead to just two points. A Derek Fisher three-pointer glanced off the rim, then the Jazz’ Gordon Hayward hit two straight three-pointers and a jumper while the Thunder added only two free throws.
Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club battled nearly all the way back, but after the game the team knew that its uncharacteristic defensive focus and effort over the first three quarters was the cause of Tuesday night’s 112-101 loss on the road.
“That’s not how we play,” Brooks said. “That’s not what makes us successful. I knew the guys were going to battle back and make a game out of it. We had a chance to cut it to two or three, but our defense gave up 58 percent shooting.”
The Jazz scored 30, then 29 then 31 points over the first three quarters of play, shooting a blistering 71 percent from the field in the opening period. Whether it was being a step late or not contesting strong enough, Thunder defenders didn’t quite execute its defensive gameplan to its liking, which gave Jazz shooters like Hawyard, Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams an opportunity to get hot from behind the arc, where the Jazz shot 8-for-18 on the night.
Team leaders like Kevin Durant said the key lesson for the Thunder moving forward is to ensure that they don’t allow teams to get a hot shooting start, because that rhythm and confidence can carry over for the rest of the game. Even though the Thunder will always fight and battle until the end to keep the game close, giving opponents open looks at the rim early can be problematic for the rest of the night.
“We fought but we can’t play for just one quarter,” Durant said. “We didn’t have toughness tonight. Too many mental mistakes from everybody and they capitalized on it. You give a team confidence, they’re going to have it the whole game.”
“The mind is a powerful thing,” Durant explained. “You see that ball go through the basket and you’re going to think every shot you put up is going in. We have to take that away from them.”
Durant was the catalyst for the Thunder’s comeback, scoring a season-high-tying 48 points for the second time in a week, tying his own mark for most individual points for a player in a game this season. He was aided by Reggie Jackson’s 20 points and six assists, in addition to the inspired play on both ends of the floor by Nick Collison.
The Thunder actually outscored the Jazz in points the paint, second chance points, fast break points and points off turnovers, but the Jazz’s hot shooting from the perimeter and 24 made free throws were enough to make the Thunder’s offensive efforts irrelevant tonight. As Brooks’ club turns its focus to its Thursday night clash in Denver against the Nuggets, it hopes to combine a better defensive effort with a higher-percentage offensive effort so it can bounce back from tonight’s tough loss.
“Hopefully we can erase this quickly and move onto the next game,” Brooks said. “Kevin was good offensively, but we’re a defensive team and we didn’t hit shots either. We missed a lot of open threes. Hopefully we can make them next game.”
The Jazz used an 11-2 run in the second quarter to break away from the Thunder as a 32-30 Jazz advantage with 10:47 remaining in the half became a 43-32 edge by the 8:12 mark. Enes Kanter two shots in the paint surrounding a Brandon Rush three-pointer, then Kanter made two offensive rebounds on the same play, getting Rush another chance at a jumper which made the Jazz lead 11 points.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Kevin Durant stays in the passing lane along the baseline, keeping his arms wide to knock away a pass then deliver an outlet pass to start a fast break. Slick pass by Reggie Jackson to hit Thabo Sefolosha under the rim while the defense wasn’t paying attention. Jackson hustles back in transition and Perkins gets his hand on the ball to create a steal. Beautiful pocket pass from Durant to Steven Adams gets the Thunder a wide open dunk. Perfect recognition by Nick Collison to find a man to box out and allow a teammate to grab a rebound. Excellent transition screen by Adams to free the lane up for Durant.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Sefolosha scratches and claws to fight for an offensive rebound, forcing a jump ball. Nice bounce pass from Durant to Collison for an easy bucket in the two-man game. Thunder defense stands firm to force a shot clock violation. Jeremy Lamb stays involved on the defense glass and forces a jump ball. Durant and Lamb both jump into the passing lanes to force Jazz turnovers. Incredible defensive play by Collison to slap the ball off of his man’s knee.
“(I want to see) toughness and even more toughness and some fight. We just have to stay together. We lost a basketball game on the road. It’s not the end of the world. If we had won this game we wouldn’t have won a championship. We didn’t lose a championship. We lost a basketball game in January. We just have to regroup and be better next game.” – forward Kevin Durant