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Kevin Durant scores 48 points, but Utah downs OKC Thunder

by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 7, 2014


photo - OKC’s Kevin Durant, right, is defended by Utah’s Brandon Rush during first half action in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. Durant scored 48 points in a 112-101 loss. AP Photo
OKC’s Kevin Durant, right, is defended by Utah’s Brandon Rush during first half action in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. Durant scored 48 points in a 112-101 loss. AP Photo

SALT LAKE CITY — Russell Westbrook was at the end of the bench in a sport coat.

Serge Ibaka was in the locker room.

And the Thunder's defense was nowhere to be found.

Down two starters, the Thunder struggled to keep up with the worst team in the West and ultimately suffered a shocking and thorough 112-101 thumping against Utah on Tuesday night inside Energy Solutions Arena.

Kevin Durant tied his season high with 48 points to lead the Thunder. But without the team's second and third leading scorers by his side, he had little help. Reggie Jackson, with 20 points, was the only other Thunder player to score in double digits.

The Thunder shot 39.3 percent, just the fourth time this season OKC has been held under 40 percent shooting.

But on this night, offensive futility only compounded the biggest problem, which unquestionably was the Thunder's uncharacteristically porous defense.

Utah came out hot, making 10 of its first 13 shots, and never cooled off.

In the end, the Jazz connected on a season-high 58.8 percent of its shot attempts, becoming the first team this season to shoot at least 50 percent against the Thunder.

“They were able to pick us apart,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “They came out with better energy. They came out with more focus on the offensive end. And that surprises me because we've always been a team that takes every game as the most important game, and tonight that wasn't the case.”

With Ibaka missing his first game this season due to flu-like symptoms, the Thunder's defense collapsed.

No one took advantage more than Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, who enjoyed a career night with 37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. He made 13 of 16 shots in 37 minutes and just carried the Jazz down the stretch.

Ibaka's absence prohibited the Thunder from offering any resistance for Hayward at the rim, and OKC surprisingly had no answer on the perimeter. Derek Fisher, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III all got lengthy shots on Hayward in the fourth quarter. And all three whiffed.

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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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