SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—Russell Westbrook(notes) made yet another 3-point shot, drew both his index fingers to his lips, and blew. He pretended to load his hands back into holsters and broke into a big smile.
Westbrook and the Thunder were hot and he knew it.
“Whatever my team needs me to do, I am ready. If that’s scoring, that’s what I’ll do, and tonight I was firing away,” said Westbrook, who scored 33 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Utah Jazz 121-105 Saturday night for their fifth win in six games.
“Russell was phenomenal from the 3-point line. He was unconscious out there,” Durant said. “Coach called a lot of plays to get Russell in the pick-and-roll, because we knew we could exploit them. Russell is a great pick-and-roll player and so I just became a second or third option.”
“They penetrated and kicked the ball out to guys who shot the ball and they did a terrific job shooting the basketball,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
Durant converted a three-point play to open the fourth quarter give the Thunder a 95-81 lead.
Millsap, who had his fourth 30-plus scoring performance this season, countered with six straight points for the Jazz.
But Durant came right back to spark a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer and capped it with two free throws to give Oklahoma City a 102-87 lead with 8:27 to play. The Jazz only got within single digits once the rest of the way.
“They hit a few of those shots outside with a hand in their face. So that’s tough. You play good defense and they hit a shot anyway,” Millsap said.
Hampered by slow starts all season, the Jazz began the game by making their first 11 shots. Utah is the first NBA team to start a game 11 for 11 since Detroit did it against Milwaukee on Feb. 19, 2010.
“We started out terribly but our second unit sparked us in that second quarter. They gave us some energy and got some stops,” said Durant, who saw Utah’s 11-point lead evaporate to 2 by the time he returned in the second quarter.
A night after they beat Phoenix 111-107, the Thunder played fast after Utah’s initial burst. Oklahoma City is now 6-3 on the second night of back-to-back sets.
Deron Williams(notes) had 14 points and 11 assists in his second game back after missing four games with a strained tendon in his right wrist. But Williams and the Jazz looked winded in the second half as the Thunder blew past them.
“They sucked the life out of us,” Williams said. “We tried everything (on the pick-and-roll) but I didn’t do a good job. They just picked us apart.”
The Thunder’s long-range marksmanship may have caught the Jazz by surprise as they tried to crowd the lane to stop the drives of Westbrook and Durant. The Thunder have the second-lowest 3-point percentage in the league at 32.8 and the last time the Thunder made more than half their 3-point shots was on New Year’s Eve with 10 of 18 in a 103-94 win over Atlanta.
On Saturday, outside accuracy opened everything up for the Thunder.
“Tonight we caught fire. It was a lot of fun,” Durant said.
Notes: Andrei Kirilenko(notes) missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle and Mehmet Okur(notes) sat out with a strained lower back. … Nick Collison(notes) received six stitches after trying to take a charge midway through the second quarter. … The last time the Jazz made 11 field goal attempts to start a game was March 11, 1998 when they hit their first 12 against Sacramento.