Jefferson helps Jazz cool off Thunder 109-94
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant had not been called for a flagrant foul in his six-year professional career.
That changed Tuesday night when his frustration boiled over during a 109-94 loss to the Utah Jazz.
His body-check on Alec Burks sent the second-year pro flying out of bounds with 6:06 remaining.
By then the outcome was basically decided, with Al Jefferson scoring 23 points and Paul Millsap 18 to lead the Jazz to a victory.
Utah stopped a two-game losing run and ended the Thunder's four-game winning streak.
"You didn't watch the game? They outrebounded us. They scored in the paint. We turned the ball over. We just gave them the game. They executed on everything they did," Durant said.
"We just got to be better. We made some bone-headed plays. I know I did. We just have to be better."
While a team without a single All-Star showed it can compete with the best, Oklahoma City finds itself regrouping for a big game on Thursday.
The Thunder head home for an NBA Finals rematch with Miami, which has beaten them five straight times going back to June's title series.
The Thunder will try to find the form that had them leading the league in scoring (106.4), free throw shooting (.829) and had routed its past four opponents by an average of 25.3 points.
Instead of sitting starters because they were ahead by so much, head coach Scott Brooks pulled his Tuesday with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining because it was a blowout the other way.
Durant blamed himself, even though he scored a team-high 33 points on 11-of-16 shooting, with six rebounds, five assists and four steals. He also had four turnovers.
"I turned the ball over too much," he said. "I didn't help rebound enough. I lead our team. I got to ignite the guys. I got to do better having guys follow me. I got to do better as communicating on the floor as well.
"We have to be better in every aspect. Energy. Effort. Rebounding. Passing. Not turning the ball. We just have to be better. I think we will. We got a team that does a great job of bouncing back and learning from our mistakes."
The Jazz showed they can do that after dropping back-to-back games against Chicago and Sacramento.
Before the game, Millsap said the Jazz were desperate for a win.
"It's a statement win," said DeMarre Carroll, who had 13 points, three rebounds and three steals off the bench for Utah and keyed a big second quarter.
Utah's bench outscored Oklahoma City's 49-25, and the Jazz bigs dominated the boards, holding a 16-7 edge on offensive rebounds and 38-26 advantage overall.
The Thunder also committed 20 turnovers.
The game was scrappy from the start.
Jefferson poked the ball away for a steal in the first quarter and ended up getting poked in the eye so hard it left him sprawled on the floor for about a minute.
Kendrick Perkins was called for a flagrant foul and technical foul, and Carroll and Durant drew double technicals after getting into a little shoving match after Durant's flagrant on Burks.
"It was part of the game," Durant said of his play against Burks. "I'm not a dirty player or anything like that. It was just part of the game. I'm sure they would have done the same thing to me."
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