Kevin Durant, Thunder beat Jazz 104-94
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—The Oklahoma City Thunder passed the ball all over the court, played smothering defense and looked like a team with legitimate hopes of making the playoffs.
The young Thunder also reminded the Jazz that Utah’s home court is an advantage, not a guarantee.
“We passed the ball and made shots and we executed our offense all the way through,” said Durant, whose eight assists were one off his career high. “Instead of two passes, then a shot or one pass and a shot, we got maybe four passes and shot.”
The Thunder outscored the Jazz 31-16 in the third and won in Utah for the first time since April 2007—when they were still the Seattle SuperSonics.
Jeff Green(notes) had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists and Thabo Sefolosha(notes) shut down Utah’s Deron Williams(notes), holding him to just 10 points as the Thunder ended a four-game losing streak in Utah.
Oklahoma City, which lost at the Los Angeles Lakers two nights before, also took advantage of 24 turnovers and improved to 5-4 on the road. The Thunder won eight games away from home all last season.
“We’re sharing the ball a lot, helping each other out on the defensive end as well,” Durant said. “This is a good road win for us after a tough loss at L.A.”
Utah is usually one of the toughest home teams in the NBA, but it fell to 4-3 at EnergySolutions Arena this season. The Jazz heard plenty of boos until they made a run in the fourth quarter by cutting a 19-point deficit to eight, but couldn’t sustain the comeback.
“We are a team that usually wins 35-plus games at home and now we’re off to a slow start,” said Carlos Boozer(notes), who led Utah with 26 points. “We need to turn this thing around fast because it will catch up on us.”
This was the second of a six-game homestand for the Jazz, who host Chicago on Saturday.
“I thought they did a terrific job,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said of the Thunder. “We turned the ball over 24 times against a team in our division—in our building. We turn the ball over this many times, it makes it really hard to come away with a win.”
“I thought we did a good job of passing the ball, sharing the ball, believing in each other and having some trust,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Utah’s turnovers led to 25 points for the Thunder and put the Jazz too far behind to make a comeback, although they did get close.
After Durant’s layup put Oklahoma City up 92-73, the Jazz answered with a 15-4 run to revive their fans and quiet the boos that had been echoing much of the game. Mehmet Okur(notes) started the run with a 3-pointer, Wesley Matthews(notes) made a free throw and Andrei Kirilenko(notes) added a 3-pointer to keep the Jazz rolling. Paul Millsap(notes) had a basket, then Boozer hit back-to-back jumpers to get Utah to 96-86.
Millsap added a dunk with 2:58 left, but Westbrook stopped the momentum with four straight foul shots and Green sealed it with a hook shot that gave Oklahoma City a 102-88 lead with about a minute left.
“It seemed like it happened so quick,” Williams said. “It was a combination of bad shots and turnovers and things like that.”
Millsap had 19 points and seven rebounds, and Kirilenko added 14 points and six boards for the Jazz. Williams finished with nine assists and seven rebounds.
The Thunder opened the second half by making six of their first 10 shots, taking a 66-60 lead on Durant’s 3-pointer with 7:36 left in the third quarter, then never let up the rest of the period.
Oklahoma City used a 9-2 run to take a 79-66 lead on Durant’s 22-foot jumper, then closed the third with five straight points to go up 84-68. Fans muttered boos throughout the quarter, then let the Jazz have it between periods.
Utah went scoreless from Boozer’s dunk with 2:43 left until Kirilenko stole the ball and took it in for a dunk with 11:13 left in the game. Kirilenko drew a foul on the play and made the free throw to convert a three-point play, but that only pulled Utah to 85-71.
NOTES: Okur’s 3-pointer in the fourth quarter put him one ahead of Jeff Hornacek (439) for the most in Jazz history. … The Jazz outrebounded the Thunder 37-31. … Thunder F Nick Collison(notes) missed his second straight game with soreness in his right knee. … Oklahoma City went 22 for 25 from the foul line. … Williams had seven turnovers, and Boozer and Millsap five each for the Jazz.