Seldom did the Oklahoma City Thunder play with the precision you’d want from the Sultans of Swing, but after three quarters of too close for comfort, they put away the Utah Jazz in the fourth, opening up a lead as large as 18 points before winning it 106-94 at This Is Not The Convention Center, Dammit.
This statistic sums up the game as well as any: Utah’s Al Jefferson led all scorers with 32 points, reeled in 12 rebounds to boot, and still finished -14. If this suggests to you that Big Al can’t do it all, consider this: take out Jefferson’s 14-18 shooting, and the Jazz otherwise went 17-51. That’s 33 percent, give or take a repeating decimal. OKC did yeoman’s work of keeping the Jazz out of the paint; Utah was relying on the trey to keep them in the game, but eventually the Thunder came up with some semblance of perimeter defense. C. J. Miles might have gotten the worst of it: he went 2-12, 1-5 from beyond the arc, and ended up getting most of his 11 points from the charity stripe.
Both Kevin Durant (29 points) and Russell Westbrook (31) were hitting well tonight, and Serge Ibaka seasoned a nice double-double (15 points, 13 boards) with four blocked shots. There were lots of fouls both ways: the Jazz were 26-32 at the line, the Thunder 30-36. OKC had the rebounding advantage, 35-30. I have to wonder what might have happened had Andrei Kirilenko not grunged up his knee early on, or if Derrick Favors, listed as active despite a recent ankle sprain, had gotten something other than a DNP-CD, but as the phrase implies, that’s the coach’s decision.
Next two home games are against the Timberwolves and the Trail Blazers. One of those, I’m thinking, will qualify as a shiver in the dark.