Regular Season Recap: Thunder vs Jazz

JAZZ 85

THUNDER 111
6 Assists for Kendrick Perkins, tying a career-high and a part of a 24 assist night for the Thunder

8 Assists for Reggie Jackson, a career-high

10 Rebounds by Serge Ibaka, part of his double double and a +7 rebounding night for the Thunder

13 Players who scored for the Thunder, which was every one that played

13 Blocked shots by the Thunder, including 6 by Serge Ibaka

17-4 The fast break points advantage for the Thunder on the night

24 Minutes by Reggie Jackson, a career-high

60 Points in the paint by the Thunder tonight, 18 more than the Jazz

The Thunder immediately heads to Houston for a game against the Rockets. Game time is 7:00 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then returns home for five straight home games before the All-Star break. The Thunder will host the Golden State Warriors on Friday, the Denver Nuggets on Sunday and the New Orleans Hornets on Monday. To close out the stretch, the Thunder will face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday and the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
With just over six minutes gone by in the Thunder's 111-85 victory over the Utah Jazz, the Thunder held a commanding 16-4 lead. By preventing the Jazz from getting open looks through blocked shots and great defensive rotations, the Thunder clamped down right from the get-go on defense, propelling the team to victory. The Jazz started the night 1-for-15 shooting and while it made a run or two, in the first half, the Thunder re-focused and made it a double-digit game from the end of the second quarter on. According to Head Coach Scott Brooks, it was the interior defense, particularly that of Serge Ibaka, that led the way.

"I thought we came in and set the tone defensively," Brooks said. "We started the game in the first half defensive-minded. That's when we're at our best when we're playing defense and defending and making them take and miss tough shots. Serge was all over the floor, rebounding the ball, blocking shots, he's getting better every game. His development is encouraging. Every day he works and you can see the work that he puts in on the floor paying off for him."

Ibaka finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots in yet another amazing effort around the rim. Whether it was his four offensive put-backs or the times that he altered shots even when he wasn't credited with a block, Ibaka made sure Jazz forwards Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap had tough nights. Another key to the Thunder victory was rookie guard Reggie Jackson, who played a career-high 24 minutes and also racked-up a career-high eight assists.

"I just got to play basketball," Jackson said. "I just got to do what I've basically grown up doing my whole life. I felt more comfortable. I just have to bring that to the whole game, stop deferring and just stay aggressive... I don't remember my floater, but I definitely remember hitting him for the three. It definitely got us pumped up. I think you could feel it."

When Russell Westbrook was saddled with his fourth foul early in the third quarter, it was up to Jackson to come in and carry the load. The Jazz gave a little punch and scored four straight points, but Jackson and the rest of the first unit righted the ship and eventually ran the lead all the way up to 27. Jackson, the first-year man out of Boston College, had been seeing 11.4 minutes per game in his 21 NBA contests, and has filled in nicely since Eric Maynor went down with a knee injury earlier this season. Brooks was happy with how the rookie stepped in and worked with both the first and second units.

"It was good, Russell had four fouls so we needed Reggie to come in and play well," Brooks said. He did, he did a good job of running the team, getting us into our sets, getting us into our offense. It was one of our best passing games we've had all year with 24 assists... Reggie I thought was really good, he was solid in his minutes."

From Ibaka to Jackson the Thunder saw contributions from all areas. Amazingly, all 13 players that saw game action for the Thunder tonight scored, including valuable players like Ryan Reid, Lazar Hayward, Cole Aldrich and Royal Ivey who don't get as much playing time as others in the rotation. Reid scored his first NBA points of his career, and in general that unit closed out the game with supreme effort. It started with the starting lineup, as Kevin Durant was seen flying across the floor for a loose ball and Kendrick Perkins was making extra passes while he racked up a career-high-tying six assists on the night.

"We wanted to play a little harder," Durant said. "Coach (Brooks) said earlier that we gave them too many easy plays last game, so we just tried to take that away by having a little bit more toughness and effort. I think that was what we did tonight. We kind of focused on that, and guys are playing hard and playing together. That's the ingredients for us to get a win."

TURNING POINT:
Although the Thunder got off to a hot start and forced the Jazz to miss 14 of its first 15 shot attempts, but the true turning point in this one came with 7:53 remaining in the first half as the Thunder held a tenuous 31-28 lead. An official time-out stopped the clock, and on the ensuing Thunder possession Nazr Mohammed hit a hook shot in the lane, Daequan Cook made a steal, James Harden made a lay-up, Reggie Jackson hit a floater in the lane and Harden followed it up with a 3-pointer off an unselfish Jackson assist. By that point the Thunder had made it 40-28 with 5:54 remaining in the half. The Thunder led by double digits almost the entire rest of the game thanks to that 9-0 run.

"I think we called a timeout and just made some great plays," Harden said. "It started with the defense. We got a couple easy layups and the three. Throughout the 48 minutes I thought we had great spurts of defense."

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Great, physical defense from Kendrick Perkins to contest an Al Jefferson shot, then a nice job of boxing out by Serge Ibaka to grab the rebound... Goodpick from Perkins to free up a Russell Westbrook jump shot... Nice hustle from Perkins to track down a loose ball then find a cutting Ibaka for a slam dunk... A beautiful helpside block from Ibaka to prevent a layup... Pretty lob pass from Westbrook to Kevin Durant for a dunk... Unbelievable quickness from Westbrook to get to the rim and finish, then a great job of contesting by Durant for a block... Unselfish pass from Durant below the rim to Ibaka, who drew two foul shots... A quick cross-court pass from Perkins to Daequan Cook for a 3-pointer... Heads up play by Nazr Mohammed to tap an offensive rebound back out to Kevin Durant, who hit a jumper... Amazing hustle by Durant to dive on the floor, steal the ball and flick it ahead to Mohammed... Perfect kickout by James Harden to Nick Collison for a pump-fake then jump shot... Soaring rebound for Reggie Jackson on the defensive end... Well-executed backdoor cut and pass from Collison to Harden to draw a foul... Harden continuing to slice and dice his way through the lane... Amazing high-arcing floater in the lane by Jackson, then heads up defense by Collison to deflect an errant pass... Smart teamwork by Harden and Jackson to give and go on the wing for an open Harden 3-pointer... Great defensive rotations all around, including finding a man to block out by Cook to wrangle in a tough defensive rebound... Slick pass to the post by Durant off a curl to give Perkins two foul shots... Beautiful pick by Perkins to free up Westbrook for a pull-up jumper... Slicing cross-court transition pass by Durant to Westbrook to draw a foul... Spectacular ball-handling skills by Perkins to run the fast break and lob an alley-oop to Westbrook... Durant with a slick wrap-around pass to Ibaka for a jam... Westbrook slings an alley-oop attempt to Durant who taps it back to Ibaka, who draws the foul... Great hustle by Westbrook to track down an offensive rebound off a missed free throw then knock the ball out off an opponent to keep possession.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Incredible lob by Perkins to Durant for an alley-oop, Kendrick's fifth assist of the night... Great hustle by Westbrook to follow up his own miss, slip a pass to Perkins, who throw a behind-the-back pass to Ibaka for a dunk... Strong move by Ibaka to reel in an offensive rebound and put it back while drawing a foul... Perfect rotation and helpside defense by the entire Thunder squad on one sequence for force a shot clock violation... Perkins hustles to knock the ball off of Al Jefferson and ends up in the first row... Nice look by Jackson to see a flashing Harden down the wing, Ibaka cleans it up with a put back... A Thunderous dunk by Durant after he drove to the lane... A corner 3-pointer from James Harden... Good job of contesting at the rim by Mohammed to stop a sure layup... Nice steal and layup by Harden on the fast break, then a perfect cross-court pass from Harden to Cook set up by a Collison screen for a 3-pointer... Good dish from Collison to Mohammed for a free-throw line jumper... Quick transition assist from Westbrook to Mohammed for a dunk... Another strong offensive rebound and put-back from Ibaka... On his first play in the game Cole Aldrich gets a layup off a Harden assist... Aldrich making his presence felt on both ends, rebounding and with put-backs.. Ryan Reid and Royal Ivey getting playing time along with Lazar Hayward... Reid scoring his first basket of the season... Quick hands from Jackson to make a steal and great hustle from Aldrich and Reid to keep the ball alive and keep possession... Unselfish move by Jackson to flip a fast break pass to Hayward to get him an easy dunk... Beautiful spin move in the lane by Ryan Reid to free himself up for a layup...