First road game of the season, and the Thunder made the trek to Salt Lake City in the hopes of starting 2-0. The hope, like the offense, was misplaced; in the first twelve minutes, OKC managed to score only 14 points, and trailed at the half 44-34. Things did not improve in the second half. The Jazz led by double digits for most of the third and fourth quarters, and won it going away 96-87, dropping the Thunder to 1-1.
So, were the Jazz that good, or were the Thunder that bad? The answer is Yes. The Jazz presented a balanced attack, with four of five starters (plus one bench player) finishing in double figures, and if anyone was mourning the loss of Gordon Hayward, Ricky Rubio might have made them forget about it for awhile: the Rickster rolled up 16 points, same as the always-deadly Rudy Gobert. (Forward Joe Ingles led the Jazz with 19, two off his career high.) The Jazz shot just under 50 percent, which was plenty; they ruled the paint, 40-20.
Twenty-plus for Paul George, as expected, and twenty-plus for Carmelo Anthony, also as expected. Not expected: an off-night for Russell Westbrook, who had 13 rebounds and nine assists but only six points on a dreadful 2-11. Utah dominated the usual team stats; the Thunder played reasonable defense most of the night but couldn’t get any offensive flow going. And there were three technicals called on OKC: one on Anthony, one on Steven Adams, and one on (gasp!) Billy Donovan, who was apparently no more impressed with the officiating than was radio guy Matt Pinto.
Next outing: tomorrow night at home, against the OMG look at them! Minnesota Timberwolves, who have looked like contenders before and perhaps actually are this year; if nothing else, they’ve already beaten the Jazz once this season, which is, so far anyway, more than the Thunder have been able to accomplish.