Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Jazz

THUNDER 101

JAZZ 87
5 Steals by Russell Westbrook tonight

6 Offensive rebounds allowed to the Jazz by the Thunder, a remarkable stat considering Utah's front line

9 Different players who scored on the night for Oklahoma City

10 Number of both points and rebounds for Kendrick Perkins

10 Steals by the Thunder as a team, which helped lead to 20 fast break points for the Thunder

16 Points by Serge Ibaka, who also had 11 rebounds for a double-double

28 Points by Russell Westbrook, a game-high. He also had 6 rebounds and 4 assists

46 Rebounds for the Thunder, a +14 advantage over the Jazz

The Thunder gets a few days off after it's week-long road trip that featured five straight games away from Chesapeake Energy Arena. On Tuesday, the Thunder will host the Utah Jazz. Game time is 7:00 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then goes to Houston on Wednesday night to take on the Rockets before returning to Chesapeake Energy Arena to host the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
The first quarter of tonight's contest against the Utah Jazz didn't quite go as the Thunder had hoped, but in quarters two through four Oklahoma City played hard for one another and gutted out a tough victory to close out an extended road trip. By holding the Jazz to 35 points in the second and third quarters combined and only 57 total points in the final three quarters thanks to runs of 15-6 and 16-4, the Thunder played lockdown defense on its way to a well-earned 101-87 win at Utah that made Head Coach Scott Brooks proud.

"Tonight was a good indication of how we play," Brooks said. " We didn't have a lot of things going for us early. We were turning the ball over, but we fought, we stuck together and competed. I thought the way we finished the game was good basketball."

The defense wasn't quite at its normal level in the first, and on offense there were admittedly too many turnovers and a lot of missed 3-pointers, but by out-rebounding the Jazz by 14 and playing the passing lanes to create 10 steals, the Thunder was able to pick themselves up and gut-out a victory. It was apparent just from watching the Thunder's interactions with one another on the court that they knew this was a tough final game of a stretch of eight-of-nine on the road, but that no matter what happened the Thunder was going to win and lose as a team. Even when the Thunder went 1-of-10 from 3-point land in the first half, players like Kevin Durant continued to trust one another.

"We did a good job of focusing and playing hard," Durant said. "We gave up 30 points in the first quarter and I think we kind of locked down after that. We gave up some easy baskets but we kept playing hard and playing together and got a good win."

A major factor for the Thunder on the defensive side of the ball was holding the Jazz front line of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap in check. The big-man rotation of Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed all played tough in the paint, combining for 28 rebounds, including 21 combined by Perkins and Ibaka. The latter duo each had a double-double and forced Jefferson and Millsap into a combined 39 percent shooting night.

"We knew their bigs are All-Star caliber players," Durant said. "They're both playing like All-Stars this year. I think Serge and Perk did a good job of playing hard. Of course they're going to hit shots, they're good players, but they forced them to shoot tough ones, so you have to applaud their effort tonight. Serge has been great for us. Perk did an unbelievable job on both ends, on the offensive and defensive ends, and we got a good win."

Brooks, who was named Head Coach for the Western Conference in the All-Star game at the end of February, spoke highly of his squad that just completed a six-games-in-six-cities-in-eight-nights stretch, the last five of which were on the road. While Durant said that he was happy to be able to get home and sleep in his own bed, Russell Westbrook, who had a game-high 28 points, said it was a positive sign that the Thunder won both of its second games of their back-to-backs this week. His head coach Brooks agreed, and hopes to see that kind of effort moving forward.

"When you have four games in five nights, that's not an easy thing to do," Brooks said. "The amazing thing is that NBA players make it look easy. We kept fighting knowing that there is always enough energy to win the game, you just have to find it. Tonight we found it, it was in us. It took us a while to get it, but we got it... Our guys did a good job of grinding it out and closing it out at the end."

TURNING POINT:
While the 10-0 second quarter run that the Thunder went on to erase a 40-36 deficit and turn it into a 46-40 lead was definitely a pivotal sequence, Brooks said that the turning point in this one came in the third quarter. It was a 58-56 Utah lead with 7:29 left in the quarter when the Thunder exploded for a 15-4 run that gave it a 10-point lead with 3:13 left in the quarter. A Daequan Cook 3-point shot, only the Thunder's second of the game to that point, four Thunder steals and a Westbrook-to-Ibaka alley-oop all marked the run, which was capped by a Durant 3-pointer off a Westbrook assist. From there on out, the Jazz never got closer than five, and the lead stayed in three possession territory most of the way.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
A big start to the night again for Serge Ibaka as he makes a block... Good defensive instincts by Russell Westbrook to break up a pass attempt, then a nifty behind the back pass from Kevin Durant to Ibaka... Nice shooting by Westbrook early, as he hits a 3-pointer then a pull-up jumper... Great hustle by Westbrook to grab a loose defensive rebound and chase it down... Good transition offense by Westbrook and hustle by Kendrick Perkins to get down floor for a dunk... Beautiful alley-oop pass from Perkins to Ibaka for a slam... Then James Harden finds Ibaka for an alley-oop on the next possession... Supreme quickness by Westbrook to get to the bucket for a reverse layup... Good perseverence by Westbrook to keep his dribble and flip the ball to Ibaka, who found Perkins for a lay-up... Well done by Harden to tip a defensive rebound to himself... Pretty spinning move in the lane by Nick Collison for a leaner... Good box out by Nazr Mohammed after a Jazz miss... Another charge drawn by Collison, his fourth in the last two games... Nice job by Collison to tip the ball out to Daequan Cook for a defensive rebound... Good job by Harden to break up an alley-oop attempt... Good sequence for Mohammed who had a dunk then tipped a defensive rebound to Ibaka... Excellent ball-handling from Perkins as he raced down the court on a fast break and drew a foul... Amazing move by Ibaka in the post to re-position and get his 10th points of the night... Great instincts by Ibaka to challenge another shot at the rim... Full Thunder team inside the paint on the defensive boards... Hustle points by Ibaka to corral an offensive rebound and draw a foul.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Durant's length helps him finish at the rim from outside the paint. Unreal... Ibaka went straight up and prevented a Paul Millsap shot from hitting the rim... Nice hustle by Westbrook to track down a defensive rebound, then a good follow-up by Ibaka to put back a transition miss... Perkins and Ibaka going up time and time again on the offensive boards, eventually forcing the Jazz to tip it out of bounds... Great rotation then outlet pass to Westbrook from Ibaka, Westbrook thanks him by hitting a pull-up jumper then making a steal and drawing a foul... Quick backdoor cut by Westbrook, who was found with a nice bounce-pass from Perkins... Good job by Cook to be heads up and grab two loose-ball steals after Durant played tough defense. Westbrook then found Ibaka for an alley-oop on the run-out... Three steals in a row for the Thunder as they continued to get out on the fast break... Strong play on the inside by Harden and Westbrook to bring down a defensive rebound. Then Westbrook hit Durant for an open 3-pointer... Durant races back to prevent an easy dunk attempt and force two free throws... Tough interior defense by Mohammed and Collison as Reggie Jackson scoops up the ball and runs out...A nice drive and dish from Jackson to Mohammed for a floater... Tough runner in the lane for Harden off a dribble drive... Great awareness by Collison to pick up a loose ball then Jackson hits a pull-up jumper... Harden then jumps the passing lane and draws a "Clear Path foul"... True toughness by Jackson to get low and steal the ball away from a bigger player, then good positioning by Mohammed for an offensive putback... Incredible anticipation by Westbrook to steal an outlet pass and slam it home, Durant follows it up with a nice box out... Huge box out by Perkins to free up Durant for a rebound... Perkins and Westbrook combine to play some tough defense and come up with a steal... Great follow-up by Perkins on an Ibaka miss for his 8th point and 8th rebound.