You might have thought this one was going to turn into a laugher, had you noticed that the Thunder were up three at halftime and the Jazz scored only 19 points in the third quarter. Then you choked at how OKC choked: the Thunder managed only 11 points in the third quarter. With 1:22 to play, the Jazz were up 90-89. Before 1:00 appeared, Russell Westbrook had knocked down two free throws and assisted on a Steven Adams dunk. As the 12.9 mark approached, the Jazz had answered, then Adams salvaged a busted play, got the rock to Westbrook, and Westbrook was duly fouled. Two more free throws from The Force, as radio guy Matt Pinto has been calling him lately, and it was 95-92 OKC. Gordon Hayward spent only two and a half seconds to send up an angle-right three to tie it. With 1.4 left, Westbrook again, with a 20-foot pullup. Alec Burks drew the last-shot assignment, and it missed. Oklahoma City 97, Utah 95, evening the season series and putting the kibosh on the Jazz’ six-game winning streak.
Westbrook, incidentally, did that triple-double thing again: 38-10-10. This despite scoring nothing in the third quarter. Wildly, both teams shot 43 percent (36 of 83), though neither was all that swift from the three-point line: the Thunder made six of 20, the Jazz five of 21. Other numbers from the stats bin were similarly close. Derrick Favors got the one Utah double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds). But there were 16 lead changes in 48 minutes, which is enough to make you dizzy. Or me, anyway.
One last road game: Wednesday at New Orleans. The bad news: it’s the first night of a back-to-back. The good news: it’s against the Mavericks, who are one game out of the Western Conference basement. Then again, everyone’s tired and waiting for the All-Star break, so it is not wise to assume that things will fall according to plan.