SALT LAKE CITY – It’s no secret that the Oklahoma City Thunder are the “blueprint for success” around the NBA. The similarities between the Thunder and the Utah Jazz have been well-documented and many Jazz fans, myself included, hope that we can be the Thunder. On Tuesday night in SLC, the Jazz were able to beat the Thunder behind some very strong, physical, balanced play.
DMC told me before #okcatuta they’d try to guard KD straight up as much as possible & make other guys beat ‘em. We’re seeing it.
— dan clayton (@Jazz1600AM) February 13, 2013
Utah was led by Paul Millsap’s 18 points, 10 boards, 6 assists and 2 steals. Al Jefferson went 11 for 22 shooting on his way to another strong performance of 23 points, 7 boards, 2 assists, a steal and a block. The Jazz got off to a good start and led 28-26 after the first quarter and took a 58-52 lead into the locker room at half time.
The Thunder get strong play from their duo of All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook almost every second they are on the floor, and they traditionally play extremely well at the start of the second half, a big reason why they win as much as they do — they take control of games and critical times. The Jazz were prepared, however, and matched their intensity and won the third quarter by a score of 28-27. Strong bench play has been a niche of the Jazz throughout the season and Tuesday was a great example. Derrick Favors contributed 15 points in 22 minutes, and DeMarre Carroll and Alec Burks both continued their strong play contributing 13 points apiece. It was also great to see Earl Watson out there with his usual energy and ability to get guys good shots, a large factor in tonight’s win.
Thunder wanna go on a run. Derrick Favors says HOW BOUT NO. #OKCatUTA
— UtahSportsNet.com (@UTSportsNet) February 13, 2013
A very important play tonight was in the 3rd quarter when Randy Foye took the charge while challenging Westbrook’s dunk on the semi-fastbreak. I was anticipating a pretty big throwdown from Westbrook but Foye made a great play in sacrificing his body. Westbrook missed the first free throw which ended up being less-noticeable in a 109-94 final score, but those are the types of plays that win basketball games and it was great to see Randy make that play, especially playing banged up.
— Darren Barker (@DJBdarren) February 13, 2013
The Jazz came out with a sense of urgency and energy that the Thunder tried to match with physical play all night long. The Jazz took the lumps in stride and banged back, never backing down to the defending Western Conference champions. I found it interesting when Kevin Durant body-checked Alec Burks, whom Ty Corbin put on Durant after excellent defensive stints from both Marvin Williams and DeMarre Carroll. From my perspective, I have no problem with KD trying to find a final push by testing the green second-year Jazzman that no one around the league really knows as of yet.
Love the passion from Alec Burks and DeMarre Carroll. That’s what’s been missing with this team. #OKCatUTA
— Spencer Ryan Hall (@saltcityhoops) February 13, 2013
That was a cheap shot by Durant. #OKCatUTA
— Rick Hardy (@broshrddg) February 13, 2013
Kevin Durant is a great competitor and one thing we are seeing from Alec Burks is that he is also a great competitor. The game was getting out of hand late with the Thunder spearheading a run at the hands of Durant, and Alec had been attacking relentlessly and Durant was simply taking a stand. One of the nice things to take from that is the fact Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins, and Russell Westbrook were that emotionally involved in the game. OKC wins by an average of ten points and many games KD and Westbrook are on the bench when the final buzzer goes off. OKC wins plenty of games off of talent alone, and any time you are matching their intensity and competing you have to be proud of it, especially when it comes from a young guy like Alec Burks.
Coming off a couple of bad losses the Jazz were in need of a win and a well-balanced team effort. They gave us a good, all-around 48 minute performance tonight against one of, if not the best, teams in the NBA. While it does make losses to lesser teams, like we saw the other night against Sacramento, a little harder to understand, a game like tonight puts things into perspective for us Jazz fans. The Jazz are a 6-8 seed and that means on any given night the Jazz could lose to a team you’d expect them to beat and they’ll beat a team you’d expect them to lose to. Utah has now beaten the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and now the Oklahoma City Thunder, all wins that took a full 48 minute effort to achieve.
In his post-game interview Al said this win will make the flight to Minnesota for tomorrow’s back-to-back more enjoyable, but they still need to go out and get one more win before the All-Star break. Hopefully we see a similar performance tomorrow night as what we saw tonight from Tyrone Corbin and the Jazz.
Corbin’s pace game plan was a huge factor in Utah winning tonight. Jazz took 19 more FGAs than Thunder. #OKCatUTA
— Clint Peterson (@Clintonite33) February 13, 2013
— Greg Miller (@GregInUtah) February 13, 2013