Jazz 109, Thunder 94
Nuggets from my notebook from Tuesday’s loss at Utah.
- The postgame locker room was more lively than anything in the last eleven minutes of the 109-94 loss the Thunder took on the chin. Scott Brooks was brutally honest. Russell Westbrook lost his patience with the media. And Kevin Durant even tried to not be nice. It was all part of a strange night inside Energy Solutions Arena, where the Thunder’s four-game winning streak came to a sudden stop and the recent road woes reared their ugly head once again.
- “They kicked our ass,” Durant said.
- “They did what they do,” Brooks said of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, “and we didn’t fight back enough to give it a game…They took it to us. They beat us in a way that we like to beat teams, by being physical and by being tough.”
- Westbrook simply walked off. The temperamental team captain got fed up with a reporter’s question and suddenly turned his back and ended the interview before walking away. The exchange was as follows. “Russell, did you guys lose this game, or did the Jazz win this one?” Westbrook: “Whaaaaat? Bro, what are you talking about, man? I’m out man. Y’all n***** trippin’.”
- Westbrook’s sound bite was good for a quick laugh and easily makes his top three all-time interview quotes. But what was sad about the exchange is that everyone on the team, players and staffers included, simply supported him. They came to his defense even after he lost his patience, snapped on a reporter, prematurely ended an interview and used offensive language. It’s one of the reasons Westbrook will always be Westbrook. Nobody seems to hold him accountable, on the court or in front of the cameras. A pretty generic question, one that players get asked all the time in every sport, caused him to erupt. But by now, that behavior is just what you expect out of Westbrook.
- Westbrook’s top three sound bites:
- “No more questions for you, bro.”
- “Whaaaaat? Bro, what are you talking about, man? I’m out man.”
- “If that’s what you say, bruh.”
- Maybe there will be video of Westbrook’s reaction from tonight. But y’all have to hear how he said “Whaaaaat.” He dragged out the aaa and put emphasis on the t.
- All those quotes were simply a product of a night filled with frustration. As Brooks said, the Jazz just took it to the Thunder and there wasn’t much OKC could do about it on this night. Utah outplayed OKC in just about every facet of the game, and, really, it was from start to finish.
- Someone asked Brooks if this was a good learning opportunity on the road. “Not really,” Brooks said. “I think they just outplayed us. They got too many offensive rebounds. We turned the ball over too many times. They played more physical than us. I don’t know what you can learn from that.”
- A 20-4 run from the final 40 seconds of the third until the 5:23 mark of the fourth put Utah ahead by 21 and put this game away.
- In the first four minutes, the Thunder turned the ball over four times. OKC had 14 turnovers by halftime and finished with 20, which led to 28 points.
- Brooks on the turnovers: “That’s tough to overcome, on the road, at home, in a playground, it doesn’t matter where you are. That’s just too many turnovers.”
- In the previous four wins, the The Thunder hadn’t had more than 14 turnovers. Again, OKC had 14 at the half tonight.
- Rebounding, or the lack thereof, destroyed the Thunder tonight. The Jazz won the battle of the boards 38-26. Utah won 16-7 on the offensive end. Millsap and Jefferson combined to grab two more rebounds (17) than the Thunder’s starting five.
- Brooks on the rebounding: “They just put their bodies on us and we didn’t react the way we should have reacted, the way we always react.”
- Another stat. In the previous four wins, the Thunder hadn’t allowed more than 10 offensive rebounds. Utah grabbed 11 by halftime tonight.
- All those rebounds by the Jazz led to a 18-4 advantage for Utah in second-chance points. At halftime, the Jazz held a 13-0 advantage in that category.
- Westbrook came out on fire. He scored 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting in the game’s first eight minutes.
- Westbrook then scored 10 points in his final 24 minutes.
- Kevin Martin was back from a one-game absence due to flu-like symptoms. It didn’t matter.
- At one point late in the game, DeMarre Carroll had scored two less points (12) than the Thunder’s bench. That’s right. DeMarre Carroll.
- I found it extremely ironic tonight that while seemingly everyone back in Oklahoma drools over a low-post scorer, the Jazz are widely believed to be looking to ship out either Jefferson or Millsap. And those are the two guys that punished the Thunder time and time again in this one.
- I’m astonished at how the Thunder shot 56 percent and lost. But not only lost. Lost by 15. If I didn’t see the game, and understand exactly how it happened, I wouldn’t believe it.
- This is the first time the Thunder has lost when shooting 50 percent or better. OKC came into this one 18-0 when shooting at least 50 percent.
- That’s amazing in its own right. The Thunder has shot at least 50 percent from the field 19 times this season.
- Durant picked up his 10th technical foul of the season tonight. It was pretty petty. But whatever. It happened with 6:06 left to play. Durant delivered a (sort of) hard foul on Alec Burks as he raced down the left sideline. It was enough to send Burks “flying” into the first row of baseline seats. Durant received a flagrant 1 foul for the play and got hit with a technical for pushing Carroll when he walked in his direction and spouted off a few words. A light shoving match ensued and Durant and Carroll picked up double technicals.
- Durant moved into a tie for second place with his technical fouls, two behind leader DeMarcus Cousins. It puts KD six away from an automatic one-game suspension and prompted me to ask Durant if he will now be more mindful of his growing temper in the final 30 games. “I’m just going to keep being me,” Durant said. “I don’t give a damn. I’m going to just keep being me.”
- Kendrick Perkins also picked up a technical foul tonight. It came after Perk and old friend Earl Watson were jawing with 4:09 left in the second quarter. Perk’s tech was pretty silly, too. If anything, it should have been a double tech. Watson initiated the back-and-forth and kept going right along with Perk.
- Perk bolted out of the locker room in record time tonight. Of all the uncharacteristic quotes coming from the Thunder’s side tonight, I would have loved to hear what the big fella had to say.
- Perk was pretty wild with his elbows tonight and Jefferson paid the price. Just 1 1/2 minutes after getting T’d up for his exchange with Watson, Perk was called for a flagrant 1 foul for hitting Jefferson with an elbow. It looked vicious. I thought Perk was going to get tossed.
- I thought Nick Collison should have played more than 17 minutes, 47 seconds. Just saying.
- It’s unfortunate for the Thunder, but this loss wasted a pretty dominant offensive game by Durant. He finished with a game-high 33 points and five assists.
- Reggie Jackson was spectacular.
- The most impressive play of the night by Jackson in my opinion came with 51.1 seconds left in the opening quarter. The two-man game with Collison and K-Mart stalled. Jackson founds himself with the ball at the top of the key with six seconds showing on the shot clock. He peered up at the clock and recognized it called for urgency. But he didn’t panic. He didn’t force a 3-pointer. He calmly used a pick, split the defenders and got the exact shot he wanted, a floater in the lane. It was a big-time sequence by the second-year point guard and one that showed his continued growth.
- Serge Ibaka was probably the only other bright spot tonight. Only because he had seven blocked shots.
- There was a guy seated in the lower bowl of the end zone tonight wearing a Durant jersey who stood and did KD’s patented shimmy along with Durant each time he attempted a free throw. Pure comedy.
- Brooks waved the white flag with the Thunder trailing 102-83 with 5:23 left to play. It was probably the right call. That was just 43 seconds after the light skirmish between Durant and Carroll. The second and third team, however, came in and immediately went on a 7-2 run to cut it to 14. Nice little display by the bench guys.
- Up next. Miami on Thursday.
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