The Jazz seldom if ever go easily. Down eighteen at one point in the second half, they fought back to within five, but the Thunder weren’t in the mood to give anything away and dispatched the Utahns, 106-94, dropping them to four games back in the Northwest.
Bereft of superstars, the Jazz were more than happy to come from all directions. Six of them hit double figures, and second-year center Enas Kanter had his best game ever: 18 points on 8-11 shooting and seven rebounds — in fifteen minutes. Al Jefferson, quiet in the first half, came alive in the second, winding up with 16 points and 11 boards. Mo Williams played; Marvin Williams got a DNP-CD. Utah hoisted 23 treys, though only seven of them dropped through. They did lead in total assists, though, 24-21. And they tried their darnedest to garner second-chance points, grabbing 21 offensive rebounds. (They had only 19 defensive rebounds.)
Apart from bricking nine free throws for no good reason, the Thunder were hitting well, shooting 52 percent from the floor. (They had one more make than the Jazz, despite taking 17 fewer shots.) As usual, Durant/Westbrook Industries loaded up the net — KD with 25, Russell with 23 and 13 rebounds — and Kevin Martin paced the bench with 19. More surprising, perhaps, was Kendrick Perkins’ line: Perk had 12 points, six boards, and five assists. Apparently Scott Brooks was serious about moving the damn ball, whydoncha. The turnover bug was back — 21 of ‘em, eight by Westbrook all by his lonesome — and you have to figure that the team will hear about that on the way to New Orleans tonight.
And hey, being 13-4 after a 1-2 start is nothing to sneeze at. Tuesday, we’re off to see the relocated, rejuvenated Nets.