Jazz stay hot at home with blowout win over Thunder

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Oklahoma City Thunder didn't extend their impressive winning streak while in Utah, but they joined some good company.
Al Jefferson scored 23 points, leading six Utah players in double figures, and the Jazz scored a surprisingly one-sided 109-94 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Utah has now beaten three of the top NBA teams at home, having previously knocked off San Antonio and Miami in the thin Wasatch Front air.
"I think we definitely showed that we can compete with any team in the NBA when we're on the same page and we're playing well together," Jazz guard Earl Watson said.
Jefferson, who didn't play the final nine minutes, scored six points midway through the second half during a stretch in which the Jazz extended what was a three-point lead with a 10-0 run.
Utah (29-24) went ahead by as many as 21 points while improving to 20-6 at home.
Kevin Durant scored a game-high 33 points and added six rebounds, five assists and four steals. He also received the first flagrant foul of his NBA career as the Thunder saw their dominating four-game win streak come to an end.
Oklahoma City, which had won its previous four contests by an average of 25.3 points, dropped to 39-13 despite shooting 56 percent.
"They just kicked our (behinds)," Durant said. "They outrebounded us. They scored in the paint. We turned the ball over and we just gave them the game, and they executed on everything we did."
Russell Westbrook had 22 points and five assists but seven turnovers for the Thunder, who beat Utah handily at home earlier this season. Oklahoma City only had two other players in double figures -- Reggie Jackson (12 points) and Serge Ibaka (10 points, seven blocked shots).
The Jazz held significant advantages in key areas, outrebounding Oklahoma City 38-26, cashing in for 18 second-chance points on 16 offensive rebounds and converting 20 Thunder turnovers into 28 points.
"Our energy on both ends of the floor was great. That gave us extra possessions because of that," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "The guys did a great job in understanding the sense of urgency and how important this game was for us."
Paul Millsap had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz, who also received a strong bench effort. Derrick Favors led the reserve rally with 15 points, while Alec Burks and DeMarre Carroll each added 13.
The Jazz play at Minnesota on Wednesday in their final game before the All-Star break. Oklahoma City will play host to the Miami Heat in an NBA Finals rematch on Thursday.
The game between these two Northwest Division foes was chippy at times.
Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins got a technical foul and a flagrant penalty-one foul in the second half for his extra-physical play against Jefferson.
"It's a little sore. I've got a headache," Jefferson said. "But I'm all right."
Things got even more spicy in the fourth quarter when Durant hit a dribbling Burks with a hard body check.
Utah backup forward Carroll approached Durant, and things got heated after Durant pushed Carroll away. Both Carroll and Durant received technical fouls. The Thunder star was also given a flagrant penalty-one foul.
The Thunder took an early five-point lead, but Jefferson and Millsap led Utah to a 28-26 lead after the first quarter. Utah then outscored Oklahoma City in each of the following three quarters to pick up one of its biggest wins of the season.
"They outplayed us. That's the bottom line, they outplayed us," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "They got too many offensive rebounds and we turned the ball over too many times, and they played more physical than us. I don't know what you can learn from that."
NOTES: Jazz point guard Mo Williams will have two pins in his surgically-repaired right thumb removed Wednesday in New York City. The veteran playmaker, who hasn't played since being injured on Dec. 22 in Miami, will begin rehabilitating in Utah upon his return during the All-Star break. He was scheduled to travel to New York City on a red-eye flight after Tuesday's game. ... Westbrook was named the NBA's Western Conference player of the week after helping guide Oklahoma City to four wins from Feb. 4-10. Westbrook averaged 21.8 points, 6.0 assists, 3.3 steals and 3.0 rebounds. ... Jazz sixth man Gordon Hayward will not return until at least next week. He attempted to practice Monday in hopes of playing before the break, but his sprained right shoulder bothered him enough that he couldn't complete the full session. ... Durant has his own personal goals, but he also gets motivated to compete on a level similar to the reigning NBA MVP. "Of course, LeBron James is a really good friend of mine, a big inspiration, a guy I looked up to in high school and middle school," Durant said. "Being the No. 1 pick out of high school was a pretty big accomplishment. Now the stuff he's doing now, of course, he's a big inspiration. I want to get there as well. I've just got to continue to work."