High weirdness all night. We begin with this revelation on Twitter:
Um, no, he’s not. And anyway, Waiters’ undistinguished Thunder debut on the Left Coast was pretty much offset by his second appearance: in 11 first-half minutes, he went 4-7 and stole the ball three times.
But Waiters won’t make the highlight reel, and Trevor Booker’s late-second-quarter bucket will: with 0.2 on the shot clock, Booker got the inbound facing away from the basket, and without turning around, he tipped the ball in the general direction of the rim. And it went in. “Grandma shot,” quipped Brian Davis.
The Jazz didn’t work too many miracles tonight, but they outworked the Thunder in the first 44 minutes or so. Finally OKC scraped to a 92-90 lead. Conspicuously, Waiters was playing and Reggie Jackson wasn’t. And with 23 seconds left, Waiters served up his first successful trey of the night, making it 97-93. Gordon Hayward made one of two foul shots, pulling the Jazz to within three; Russell Westbrook put down one of his patented dunks, Serge Ibaka swatted away the last Utah shot, and Westbrook dribbled it out for the 99-94 win.
Waiters ended up with 15 of the 26 OKC bench points and four steals. Among the starters, Westbrook posted a double-double (25 points on 9-17 shooting, 12 assists), and Kevin Durant turned in a very Durantean 32 points on 14-21. Possibly alarming: Jackson was 2-6, Anthony Morrow was 1-6. And while Serge Ibaka did grab 12 points and seven boards, he blocked only one shot.
Speaking of blocks, the Jazz practically monopolized them, to the tune of 11-5; Rudy Gobert had seven of them. Utah also controlled the boards, 44-38. Three Jazz starters broke the 20-point mark: Hayward with 27, Booker with 20, and Derrick Favors collected a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Where did the Jazz go wrong? They left seven points at the stripe, 15-22 on foul shots. (Then again, OKC was 8-9, scoring, um, seven points fewer.) And while Utah put up 11 treys in the first half and scored seven of them, all 10 of their second-half three-pointers failed, which I suspect was at least partially due to Scott Brooks making some noise at halftime about how little long-ball defense the Thunder were showing.
And now: six days off. What are we to do? Speculate, of course.