This can’t be the same Utah Jazz who lost 25 of their first 36 games, can it? But here they are, up 30-28 after 12 minutes, 59-47 at the half, 90-74 going into the fourth after leading by as many as 24 and then Something Happened. Were there gloves, the gloves would have been off. Both sides were out of fouls within three minutes. Just after the halfway point, Oklahoma City pulled to within eight; they would close to within five before a pair of Gordon Hayward treys put it permanently out of reach. Final: Utah 112, OKC 101.
In fact, Hayward managed to make a 48-point Kevin Durant performance look insignificant: the Jazz swingman rolled up a career-high 37 points, including 17 in a row, on a mere 16 shots and 13 free throws. What’s more, he gathered 11 rebounds and served up seven assists. And five other Jazzmen scored in double figures; the only player who didn’t make at least half his shots the Jazz were over 50 percent all night and finished at 59 was rookie point guard Trey Burke, and he still collected 10 points and six rebounds while delivering six dimes.
Admittedly, the Jazz didn’t have to get past Serge Ibaka, who was sidelined with flu-like symptoms. Perry Jones III, who got the start at power forward, is, to be charitable, green: in the 15 minutes he played, he got three rebounds and three fouls, and missed his only shot. And missing shots was something OKC did a lot of: the Thunder took 25 more shots than the Jazz, yet hit five fewer. That’s 39 percent, folks, and if that looks bad, look beyond the arc: six of 34. Miss Beveridge’s School for the Deranged can hit six of 34. If you’re keeping score, Durant’s 48 came on 14-34 shooting, Reggie Jackson was 6-14 for 20, and nobody else broke even ten.
Meanwhile in Denver, the Nuggets were thrashing the Celtics, 129-98. Guess who’s going to Denver Thursday night? Prayers may be in order.