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Emptying the Noggin — Despite a nice rally, Jazz's game against the Thunder was never close
By David Locke, Utah Jazz
Summary: This game ended before it started when the Jazz announced they would be without Gobert and Favors facing the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Jazz would never be in the game and ultimately lose it, 104-112.
- The Jazz are the number one team in the NBA defending the paint, allowing their opponents to shoot just 49%. Through three quarters, the Thunder were 26 of 39 for 67%. Favors and Gobert not playing decided the game.
- Andre Roberson does as good a job defensively on Gordon Hayward as anyone in the NBA.
- Without Gobert, there was no rim-roll pressure on the rim, so when the Jazz’s ball handlers came off the pick-and-roll, the Thunder kept two defenders on them and there was no room for any drives or action to create mismatches.
- The Jazz now are 1-3 versus the Thunder and have lost the tiebreaker. The Thunder are four games back of Utah, but it is really three; All the Thunder have to do is tie to get superior seeding. If the Jazz can finish 9-8 (playing nine games versus teams .500 or better the rest of the way) the Thunder would need to go 13-4 to catch the Jazz. That is a tough task for both sides. The Jazz are going to have to play very well and be healthy to win nine of their final 17 games.
- Dante Exum had a career high in points with 22, going to the line nine times. He had only gone to the line 32 times in his entire rookie season. He is showing a terrific burst to the basket and is beginning to learn how to use his length to get above the defense and finish. He is still very young, but as his body matures and gets stronger he will be able to make a lot of plays going to the rim if can maintain this quickness.
- The Jazz’s fourth quarter was played by Neto, Exum, Burks, Lyles and Bolomboy.
- Trey Lyles — —who was 1 for his last 22 — was able to get 26 minutes of action and make 4 of 10 and 2 of 5 from three.
- Alec Burks scored 20 points for the first time since his major injury in December of 2015. The last time he scored 20 was also in Oklahoma City.
- Joel Bolomboy played 14 minutes. He had 8 points and 2 rebounds.
- Westbrook now has the second most triple doubles in a single season with 32. He had 33 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists.
- The Thunder led by as many as 23 points. The Jazz’s rally was nice and it was great to see Lyles get some confidence, Burks get some run and Dante to have the best offensive game of his career, but this one was never close.
- The Jazz have a really hard schedule, the hardest remaining set of games in the league. It is going to be really hard to hold onto the fifth spot, not to mention trying to be a four seed.