8-for-14 Shooting night for Russell Westbrook, who finished with 22 points and five assists
11 Steals by the Thunder, including three by DeAndre Liggins
12 Points for Reggie Jackson, tying a career-high
21-10 Fast break points advantage for the Thunder
22 Points the Thunder scored off of 18 Jazz turnovers
33 Points for Kevin Durant on 11-for-16 shooting, in addition to six rebounds and five assists
55.9 Shooting percentage for the Thunder on the night
Feb. 12th, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY – Some nights in the NBA, particularly on the road, the home team has it going and the road team just can’t quite press the right buttons.
Unfortunately for the Thunder, Tuesday night in Salt Lake City against the Utah Jazz was one of those nights, as Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club was out-rebounded by 12 and forced into 20 turnovers en route to a 109-94 defeat. The Thunder came into this one riding a four-game winning streak, where it had beaten each team by at least 21 points, but tonight a hungry Jazz squad gave them a fight, and then some.
“It’s very rare that we play like this,” Brooks said. “It’s nothing to be over-excited about other than they beat us. They took it to us and they beat us in a way that we like to beat teams, by being physical, by being tough. They did that tonight and we didn’t do it back.”
On the road against a division foe against a team desperately hoping not to lose its third straight game is a difficult task. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook helped the Thunder stick with Utah for the large part of three quarters, combining for 55 points, nine rebounds and ten assists, but the team as a whole made too many mistakes to get the victory. As the Thunder heads back to Oklahoma City, this will be a good chance for the team to analyze how it can perform at a higher level the next time out.
“We just have to be better,” Durant said. “It’s a great learning experience, we just have to keep pushing.”
At the beginning of the season, Brooks and the Thunder squad said cutting down on turnovers and preventing opposing offensive rebounds were important areas that it would focus on this year. For the most part, the Thunder has found more consistency in those two areas, particularly with turnovers over the last four contests, when it gave the ball away less than 14 times in each game.
“I think our turnovers have been dropping,” Brooks said. “It snuck up on us tonight. We have to, hopefully, eliminate that going into next game. Our guys always respond.”
In addition, the Thunder’s boxing out and work on the defensive glass has been better this season than last year, a sign that the maturing squad can assess areas of weakness and attack them through hard work. Tonight the Jazz snagged 16 offensive rebounds that led to 18 second chance points, but the Thunder and its leaders know that as the season progresses it can find the consistency in that area it has displayed all year.
“Offensive rebounding, I think that’s the biggest thing that got them extra possessions,” Westbrook said. “I think we’ve been pretty consistent throughout the year, but we’re going to have nights like this. We just have to find a way to fight through it.”
The Thunder trailed 84-79 with 36.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter when the Jazz turned on its jets to go on a 20-4 run to break open the game. It started with an Al Jefferson jumper and continued out of the quarter break with a 6-0 burst. Serge Ibaka made a jumper and Kevin Durant slammed home a fast break dunk, but outside of that the Thunder turned the ball over and missed shots, while the jazz found ways to get to the free throw line and to hit floaters in the paint. Once the run was over, it was 104-83 Jazz with 5:23 remaining.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Sefolosha hustles back in transition defense to swat away a pass to stop an easy layup. Ibaka and Durant hang tough at the rim, tipping the ball to one another to get a defensive rebound. Westbrook smartly tips an offensive rebound out to Martin to keep possession. Jackson stays patient in the lane to get the shot he wanted even though there were only a few seconds left on the shot clock. Thabeet smartly anticipates an entry pass and tips it away to start a fast break.
Plays the box score won't show:
Quality post defense by Perkins on Al Jefferson to strip the ball then force a 24-second shot clock violation. Good decision by Ibaka to dump off a pass in the fast break to Westbrook to avoid a turnover. Good rotation on defense by the Thunder to force a difficult, contested two. Beautiful passing in the lane between Jackson and Orton to free up Jones for a dunk. Good hustle by Jackson to step in front and draw a charge.
“I have a lot of confidence in how we do things here and how our guys play and how they stick together. It’s just another opportunity for us to come back much better than we did tonight.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks