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OKC Thunder turns it around to beat Utah Jazz

Coming off a loss to the Knicks, the Thunder improved in three key areas to stop the Jazz on the road.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 9, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — The stakes set up an intriguing showdown.

For the Thunder, Tuesday's contest was about preventing a rare two-game skid.

For the Utah Jazz, it was a fight for their playoff lives.

“It's going to be a perfect game for a physical game,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks predicted.

As it turns out, that's precisely what the Thunder needed.

Oklahoma City regained its defensive focus in a knockdown, drag-out affair and prevailed, 90-80, over the Jazz, bouncing back from a disappointing performance two days earlier against New York.

The Thunder controlled the pace and tempo from start to finish, resulting in a scoreboard that reflected as much. OKC never trailed after tying the game at 4-all with 9:19 remaining in the opening period.

“We were professional in the way we came in focused,” said Nick Collison. “We stayed with it that whole game. We didn't have a bad stretch where we let them go on a run. That's usually a result of us being locked in most every play.”

Kevin Durant finished one assist shy of his fourth career triple-double, scoring 21 points with 12 rebounds and nine assists, and Russell Westbrook added a game-high 25 points with five rebounds.

Westbrook scored nine of his points in the fourth quarter, seven coming in the final five minutes to put away the Jazz. Despite an 8-for-21 shooting night, Westbrook nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing with 4:30 left to play to push the Thunder's lead to 12.

Utah used a 10-2 run over the next four minutes to pull within four. But Westbrook iced the game by stealing an inbounds pass Paul Millsap intended for Mo Williams before streaking the other way for an uncontested dunk that gave the Thunder an eight-point lead with 16.3 seconds remaining.

“It was well executed,” Brooks said of his team's defense on that Jazz inbounds play. “There was no open looks off the initial first or second option. That was the third option. And then we did a good job of denying and got the steal. (Westbrook) is as athletic as any player in this league and he can get from rim to rim pretty quick, and I don't know if you're going to be able to catch him once he gets a step on you.”

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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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