This is a rebuilding year for Utah, or so we’re told, and with a mostly-new lineup, the Jazzmen may have a tough time of things once the season starts on the 30th. It’s bad enough that Trey Burke, the rookie originally slotted for the starting point-guard slot, is on the bench with a finger injury; the able but inconsistent John Lucas III started tonight, and while Lucas’ ball movement was good (five assists), his scoring was less so (three points on 1-7 shooting). This is not, I am sure, why Scott Brooks started Andre Robberson at the three and Steven Adams in the middle. However, the Thunder led by nine, 23-14, after the first period, and Kevin Durant, shooting guard du jour who wasn’t having a wonderful night anyway (five points), wasn’t needed for the second half, though the Jazz mounted a decent 11-3 run towards the end before falling 88-82 to the Thunder.
One area where the Jazz shone was the Gordon Hayward-Andre Robberson matchup. Hayward basically pwned Roberson all night, where “all night” means “through 24 minutes,” after which Roberson retired with six fouls. Hayward finished with a team-high 18 points. Then again, Andris Biedrins, backing up Enes Kanter in the middle, fouled out in twelve minutes. And this is going to be a rough year for the Jazz if they keep missing free throws at this rate: of 32 tries, only 18 fell.
Neither side shot over 40 percent. The Thunder did well on the boards (49-39), led by Adams with 12. Reggie Jackson led the team with 18 points, with Serge Ibaka right behind at 17. (Serge blocked four shots, which seems almost ordinary for him.) What we’ve learned from this, we’ll have to put to use in ten days, when the Thunder open their season at Utah. For now, though hey, it’s preseason.