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Nuggets from my notebook from Sunday's win over Utah

by Darnell Mayberry Published: November 24, 2013

I think we can book the Thunder for at least two more wins this season, Jan. 7 and March 30…

  • Utah is bad. So bad the Thunder decided Russell Westbrook could take the night off. So bad the Jazz still got blown out of Oklahoma City with the All-Star point guard watching from the locker room.
  • For a while, this was headed for the most lopsided victory in Thunder history. The lead grew as large as 37 and appeared ready to threaten the 45-point home win OKC had over Charlotte last season. But coach Scott Brooks called off the dogs with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, and the Thunder’s third string got sloppy in the final minutes, allowing the Jazz to walk out of The Peake with only a 22-point drubbing.
  • Not surprisingly, this isn’t even Utah’s worst loss of the year. The Jazz have lost by 24 twice already this season.
  • Westbrook was given the night off to rest. The way the team sees it, sitting Westbrook was just taking advantage of the schedule. By not playing tonight, Westbrook will have had five days off going into Wednesday’s super showdown with San Antonio. Team officials insist nothing’s wrong with Westbrook’s knee. They swear it’s fine. They just want to maximize opportunities for Westbrook to take care of his knee. Expect them to continue to look for creative ways to do so as the season goes on.
  • It’s important to remember that Westbrook has played just nine games. He didn’t have a training camp. He didn’t play in the preseason. He recovered from the second knee surgery and, after completing his rehab, went right into regular season games. So in many ways, his body might need some breaks here and there.
  • With that said, I don’t really agree with the philosophy. I get it. I just don’t agree with it. It’s not a big deal. Just something that seems a tad unnecessary, perhaps even overprotective. Are five straight days off really that much better than four days off in five days? I don’t think so. But it’s also not my $80 million investment.
  • One last thing on the Westbrook topic. This approach seems to belie everything both Brooks and Westbrook believe in. Westbrook doesn’t like to take games off, and Brooks has never sat out his players to rest. Granted, the Thunder’s never had an All-Star coming back from a knee injury. But when Brooks goes out of his way to make it clear that Westbrook isn’t on a minute restriction, it’s kind of hard to sell a night off for rest. Now that the can of worms has been cracked, I wonder if Brooks will now take the liberty to sit Westbrook and Kevin Durant and whoever else he feels could use a night off. It’s definitely worth watching.
  • Reggie Jackson started in Westbrook’s place and was again pretty doggone good. He scored 10 points, made five of eight shots, had three rebounds, two steals and just two turnovers in 26 minutes. He looked in complete control and the confidence he played with against rookie Trey Burke was amazing to see. It was one of those matchups that Jackson clearly knew he could dominate, and it was a night that illustrated how Jackson knows he now belongs.
  • I was sort of surprised at how solid Burke’s defense was on Jackson. It wasn’t great. But Burke wasn’t bad, either.
  • OKC was credited for only 10 steals. If that’s the case, the Thunder must have had about 20 deflections.
  • Believe it or not, Utah once had a lead. For real. It was 3-0. Then the Thunder went on a 13-2 run and never looked back.
  • The Jazz were 5-for-20 from the field in the first quarter.
  • Serge Ibaka got off to a great start, scoring six points with five rebounds and a block in the first quarter. He played all 12 minutes. Partly because of his effectiveness, Nick Collison didn’t sub in until the start of the second quarter.
  • Ibaka finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, his team-leading fifth double-double.
  • Collison essentially got the night off as well. He played just six minutes, none in the second half.
  • The same can be said for Derek Fisher, only he played nine minutes.
  • The Thunder’s ball movement was terrific tonight. OKC had 11 assists on its first 13 made field goals and finished with 24 assists for the game.
  • Some beautiful backcuts were on display by the Thunder tonight.
  • Perry Jones III went 3-for-3 from 3-point range. He looked smooth on all three attempts, making one from the right corner and the other two from the left win. He’s now made five of his last six 3-point attempts.
  • PJ3 finished with 13 points, one shy of tying his career high. “Patience is the key,” he explained. “I know I put in a lot of hard work at the gym, so all I have got to do is be ready when coach calls my name. Just go out there and do what I know I can do, and go out there and do what I’ve been working on.”
  • The Thunder led 47-30 at halftime, shattering the season’s previous high for a lead at the half, which was nine.
  • At halftime, Utah had 10 turnovers and 13 made field goals.
  • With 10:08 remaining in the third quarter, Ibaka was whistled for a delay of game penalty for touching the ball after a Thunder basket. Never mind that the ball hit him in the head after it fell through the net.
  • In fairness to the official, Ibaka very well may have intentionally headbutted the ball.
  • With two minutes left in the third quarter, the Thunder led 75-38.
  • You’re not hearing me. After 34 minutes of basketball, the Jazz had scored 38 points.
  • At that same time, the Thunder was shooting 23.8 percent better than the Jazz from the field: 53.8 percent for OKC, 30.8 percent for Utah.
  • The Thunder’s free throw defense has been fantastic in the past three games. Over that stretch, teams have made just 45 of 87 attempts, 51.7 percent.
  • Utah made 13 of 29 foul shots tonight…KD made 12 of 13.
  • Prior to tonight, the Thunder’s largest margin of victory was 14 points. With tonight’s 22-point win, the Thunder’s scoring differential went from plus-3.2 to plus-4.8.
  • Had the Thunder’s third string not gotten so sloppy, Utah would have set a new opponent low for points scored in the Thunder era. As it stands, the Bobcats still own that distinction with 69 points.
  • Hasheem Thabeet was the only active player who didn’t play tonight.
  • Jeremy Lamb had a solid 15-point night. Surprisingly, none of his buckets came on 3-pointers. He missed his two attempts, snapping a four-game streak with at least one made 3-pointer. Instead, Lamb had the floater going and got to the basket a few times for layups.
  • Up next: San Antonio on Wednesday.
by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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