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Thunder 90, Jazz 80

The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 25 points and made a big steal and slam dunk in the final 20 seconds as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Utah Jazz 90-80 in a defensive slugfest Tuesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, while Serge Ibaka totaled 16 points and eight boards in the Thunder's third consecutive road win.

Mo Williams had 19 points and six assists, Gordon Hayward scored 17 and Al Jefferson poured in 15 points with 11 rebounds for the Jazz. Utah, battling the Lakers for the West's final playoff berth, fell to 41-38 after winning seven of its previous eight.

Westbrook made several big plays down the stretch to clinch the Thunder's win. The All-Star point guard's 3-pointer with 4:30 remaining gave OKC an 82-70 lead.

Williams started a Jazz charge with a three and Utah pulled within four points on a Paul Millsap dunk with 23.4 seconds remaining.

Durant then hit two free throws before Westbrook made the play of the night by picking off Millsap's ensuing inbound pass to Williams after a timeout.

Westbrook cruised to a two-handed dunk with 16.3 remaining and capped his night with a pair of free throws with 7.6 seconds to go.

The victory avenged the Thunder's loss in Utah on Feb. 12 (109-94) and got them back on the winning track after

Sunday's 125-120 home loss to New York.

It also kept the Thunder (57-21) in the race for the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference playoff race.

The Jazz held an early lead on a Gordon Hayward 3-pointer, putting them up 4-2.

But it was a rough go for Utah after that.

The Jazz only shot 39.2 percent overall and only scored more than 19 points in a quarter during the third period (26). They trailed by as many as 14 points and didn't make a legitimate push until the final three minutes when it was too late.

Kevin Martin, Westbrook and Durant each hit buckets at various points in the final period to squelch potential Jazz runs.

Both Ibaka and Derrick Favors had five blocked shots.

The Jazz didn't get their usual bench boost.

Favors scored eight points with eight rebounds and his handful of swats. But because of health issues, Utah was missing several key reserves. DeMarre Carroll was the only other Utah backup to score, and he had three points on 1-of-6 shooting.

Oklahoma City had its struggles offensively as well, shooting just 39.5 percent. But the Thunder hit 17 of 18 free throws and 9 of 21 from 3-point range.

The Jazz (41-38) were awaiting the outcome of the Lakers-Hornets game to see if they will be in or out of a playoff position. Los Angeles entered the night a half-game behind Utah with a 40-37 record.

NOTES: The Jazz will be without backup center Enes Kanter for as long as they keep playing this season (and postseason). The 20-year-old will have surgery on his dislocated left shoulder today in Chicago. "Frankly, this is good news, guys," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "The probability, as given to us, that something would happen to the shoulder is no greater than a shoulder that's never been injured before." The Jazz are not giving a timetable on Kanter's return. ... Utah was also missing regular reserves Alec Burks (sprained left ankle) and Marvin Williams (stomach flu) for this one. Williams was going to try to play but was sent home before tipoff. ... Thunder guard Derek Fisher was booed every time he touched the ball. Some Jazz fans are still bitter that he was released from his contract by the Jazz in 2007 and rejoined his old team, the Lakers. Fisher told Jazz management he wanted to move to a city that had medical professionals better suited to take care of his then 10-month-old daughter, who had retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer.
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