Thunder fall to Jazz in closing minutes; Dort scores 27

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Oklahoma City Thunder wing Lu Dort had already beat Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert at the rim. He attacked again in the final minute with OKC down four. This time, the reigning defensive player of the year made the stop.

The Jazz held off a gutsy Thunder performance to give OKC a 110-104 loss in a game without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Even without their star, OKC led by four points in the final in the final frame before Utah finally came through.

The Thunder have had some rough third quarters, and this one started slowly, with a 14-4 Jazz run. A defensive stand by Darius Bazley led to a scoring run by OKC.

Bazley got up to block Gobert at the rim. It may go down as one of OKC’s plays of the year.

Immediately after the block, the Thunder went on an 8-2 run to level out the score. No team would be able to get a true upper hand again.

The Thunder put on a good performance with head coach Mark Daigneault back at the helm. He missed the road trip for the birth of his child.

What makes it more impressive is that three rookies were in the starting lineup.

Aaron Wiggins got the start in place of Gilgeous-Alexander. The No. 55 pick in the draft only attempted one field goal in 26 minutes, finishing with one point and three rebounds.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds and added four assists. He sank three of the four 3s he attempted.

Josh Giddey stole the show. He flirted with a triple-double, posting 19 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. He looked great in the closing minutes of the close game, draining a clutch 3 and playing above his years.

And Dort, who knows a thing or two about scoring explosions against the Jazz, finished with 27 points and five made 3s.

The Thunder shot above 41% from 3 while Utah just 31.9%, a rather shocking development that played a major role in how close the game was. But Gobert’s presence — 15 points, 17 rebounds, five blocks — was too much for the OKC back line. Jordan Clarkson came up huge off the bench with a team-high 20 points.

It’s yet another game that the Thunder players can walk away from with their head held high and the management group happy that they played close but took a step closer to the bottom of the standings.

All that mixed together – good defense, good 3-point shooting, good play from rookies, and a close game against one of the top teams in the league, all without Gilgeous-Alexander, gives the team and fans something to be thankful of with Thanksgiving officially underway.