Much was made before this game of the fact that the Thunder had played last night at Sacramento, while the Jazz had had two days of rest. To me, it didn’t look like either team was exactly sleeping on the job, though Raja Bell seemed to fall down a lot. And while Utah jumped out to an early lead, Oklahoma City remembered that word “execution,” which I infer means that they were supposed to run the plays properly, not that Scott Brooks was going to have one or several of them shot. (We won’t even mention here that a win tonight would propel Brooks into the All-Star Game as the West coach.) The five-game road swing ended 3-2 as the Jazz faded late; OKC, up by nine at the end of the third quarter, won it by 14, 101-87.
Interestingly, all five of the starting Jazzmen finished in double figures, led by Al Jefferson with 20. Jefferson and Paul Millsap got 17 rebounds between them, more than the rest of the team combined; OKC won the battle of the boards, 46-32. But give the Jazz credit for moving the ball: 27 assists, while the Thunder managed only 12.
It was not Daequan Cook’s night: he put up nine of his patented long-distance bombers, and only one dropped. (The Thunder went 4-20 from Way Out There; the Jazz were 3-9; both sides shot about 47 percent overall.) But if the long jumpers weren’t falling, running to the rim paid off: Russell Westbrook was good for 28 points, Kevin Durant 19, and the bigs (Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka) both had double-doubles. Perk, in fact, seemed almost buoyant at times. Nobody tell LeBron, okay?
These two teams meet again Tuesday in Oklahoma City, though this time the Thunder will have rested up a bit and the Jazz will be finishing up a back-to-back-to-back. I don’t expect anyone to be sleepwalking through that game either.