Shoot-around Report: Jazz Present Physical Test

The Utah Jazz come into Oklahoma City tonight just 5-12 under new Head Coach Ty Corbin and coming off a blowout loss Monday night in Memphis. But Thunder coaches and players know the Jazz is capable of presenting a major challenge.

“They’re different from when we played them last,” Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks acknowledged. “They have a new point guard, a new coach, but Ty is going to do a great job. They still have talented players, they still play hard and they’re still a physical team. So we’re going to have to go out and play a good basketball game to beat them.”

Utah has been plagued by injury troubles, too. Point guard Devon Harris has been bothered by a strained hamstring and may not be able to go tonight, and rookie forward Derrick Favors sprained an ankle Monday night and also may not play.

“We have prepared that they will both play tonight,” Brooks said, adding, “we’re not so sure that Harris will, though. If he doesn’t we’re very familiar with Earl (Watson) and what he brings to their team. But if no Harris, they’re still going to run their system and they run it very well. They’re physical, they set good screens and we’re really going to have to watch their players that cut really hard to the basket.”

Coming from the Eastern Conference, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins isn’t as familiar with the Jazz as are his teammates, but he knows one thing for sure about tonight’s opponent.

“They’re fighting to get into the playoffs, so it’s not gonna be easy," he said. “We’ve just got to make sure we come focused and ready because they’re going to be ready. They’re trying to win games and we’re at home, so there are no excuses for us.”

The Jazz are a Northwest Division rival, but the Thunder is not paying more attention to this game than any other.

“I never talk about that this is a division rivalry,” Brooks told reporters. “I know that with them being in our division we have a great chance to take care of our division lead, but really it’s just another game that we have to play well in order to win. You’re not given anything in this league. Hopefully we learned that lesson last game (against Toronto). We had a chance to win it but we didn’t do the necessary things it took to win. Tonight’s game is the most important game of the year and then the next game is the most important.”

Tip-off against the Utah Jazz is set for 7 p.m. inside Oklahoma City Arena. You can watch all the action on Fox Sports Oklahoma or listen in on the Thunder Radio Network.

NOTES:
  • Oklahoma City is 9-2 in March and 13-5 in games played on Wednesday night. Utah is 4-6 this month.

  • Oklahoma City is 17-5 this season in games following a loss. That’s the second-best record in the NBA behind San Antonio’s 12-1 mark.

  • The Thunder is 2-1 versus the Jazz this season. Both wins came in Salt Lake City. Utah won, 120-99, when the teams last played in Oklahoma City back on Halloween night.

  • Jazz point guard Earl Watson played for the Thunder during the team’s first season in OKC. Watson and Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook played college basketball at UCLA.

  • Thunder backup point guard Eric Maynor was drafted by the Jazz in 2009 then traded to Oklahoma City after playing in 26 games for Utah.