For the Thunder, it tied an opponent season-low for a quarter and essentially sealed the game. Despite an offensive push in the middle quarters, the Jazz never got within single-digits after the six-minute mark of the first.
“I’ve stepped up a lot,” Russell Westbrook said of his defense, days after he was highly critical of his performance on that end. “I feel like we need to start the game off more defensively and I thought we’ve done that the past two games.”
But the true test will come in the next two games.
After a pair of expected blowouts of Utah and Sacramento, the Thunder has three days off before a back-to-back with the red-hot Spurs and Rockets. San Antonio has won 17 in a row.
“Just continue to play our brand of basketball,” Caron Butler said of the matchup. “Play with a lot of energy and effort.”
Energy and effort had been spotty in the batch of games immediately after the All-Star break. But those two things have consistently been there of late, with the Thunder winning six of its past seven.
Now comes a heavyweight matchup on Thursday, coming on the heels of two of the Thunder’s better performances in a while.