When the Thunder were up thirteen on the Jazz with three and a half minutes left in the third quarter, the question in everyone’s mind was how long it would take Utah, this year’s Comeback Kids, to regain the lead. They made up five by the end of the quarter, and six more in the next five minutes. But two points would be as close as the Jazz would get; Kevin Durant sank four free throws in the last thirteen seconds to put it out of reach. The final: 115-108. Radio guy Matt Pinto reminded me that the Thunder were the sixth-best road team last year, and maybe that’s the way things are going to happen this year: they’re 3-1 on the road and 3-3 at the Flawed Center.
Telltale statistic: Serge Ibaka, in the absence of Jeff Green, played 39 minutes, rolled up 22 points, and reeled in 11 boards. (Then there were the four blocked shots, a steal, and even an assist.) Russell Westbrook, his minutes limited by early foul trouble, still got 22; KD finished with 30. Shooting was almost dead even: OKC 50.7 percent, Utah 50.6. The Thunder hit six of sixteen treys, the Jazz six of fifteen. The clincher: OKC 33-34 at the stripe, Utah 18-22.
On the other hand, Deron Williams is amazing to watch, even on the radio. (The Fox Sports TV feed failed early on.) Williams had 31 points and 11 assists, game high for both. And backup guard C. J. Miles, for whom Sam Presti tried to deal back in the day, was the only bench player for either side in double figures, with 16.
The Rockets come to town Wednesday, possibly Yao-less, though Luis Scola is scary enough, if you ask me.