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Thunder 90, Jazz 80

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm •  Published: April 10, 2013

Nuggets from my notebook from Tuesday’s win at Utah.

  • Great bounce back win here Tuesday night. Two things made it so impressive. First, the Thunder manhandled a Jazz team fighting for its playoff life. Second, the Thunder did everything right in this one that it did wrong at home against the Knicks on Sunday.
  • The defense was back and the Thunder rode it to a big win. Again, it’s big because of the aforementioned reasons, not the opponent. OKC held Utah to 39.2 percent shooting, forced 17 turnovers, defended the 3-point line, kept the Jazz off the foul line, controlled the paint and, finally, rebounded.
  • “We had great intensity,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We came out with the mindset of getting stops every time down the court and we did that.”
  • The Thunder held Jazz big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to 23 points on 24 shots. That’s a great night at the office for the Thunder. Add to that, that tandem pulled down only 17 rebounds, just two on the offensive end.
  • “We did a good job of doing our work early and making their catches further out,” said Nick Collison. “The further out they catch it the more we can get (help) from the perimeter player. And our guards were doing a good job of being active and making them guess. They couldn’t just get into their move. And then the biggest thing is we just kept them off the board. That’s what we’ve struggled with against them in the past is they’ve beat us up on the boards but we did a good job tonight.”
  • Just six offensive rebounds for the Jazz tonight. That ties an opponent season-low.
  • Kevin Durant finished one assist shy of a triple-double and it’s probably a good thing that he didn’t get it. Would have been cheap had he recorded it. That’s because of the way he would have recorded it. He was desperately trying to get it, and if you were watching the flow of the game and, more importantly, how the scoreboard was changing in Utah’s favor as he tried his best for one final assist, you saw it was costing the Thunder. It just wasn’t the smartest decision. Of course it’s no big deal now. The Thunder won and Durant didn’t get it. It would have been more impressive had he gotten it in the flow, which, ironically, every one of his points, rebounds and assists came in.
  • Durant on not getting it: “It’s all good, brother. We won the basketball game.”
  • Durant’s rebounding was huge in helping the Thunder control the glass. And in line with the night’s theme, it was huge in the way he turned things around from Sunday. After pulling down just three against the Knicks he snatched a game-high 12 against the Jazz. All 12 came on the defensive end, helping to limit the Jazz’s second chances.
  • Utah scored just seven second chance points.
  • Brooks on Durant: “KD did a great job of spreading out his game tonight. He could have easily taken more shots if he wanted to. But he was making the right plays.”
  • Brooks on KD’s rebounding: “A lot of them when we were small and they were going at our bigs when he was the big. And he did a good job guarding Millsap and their bigs when we did switch out.”
  • More from Brooks on the bounce back win: “That’s one of the strengths of our team. We always seem to figure out ways to get better after a loss. That’s a great characteristic to have is the bounce-back mentality. We just focus on the next game. We put the loss behind us quickly.”
  • Russell Westbrook is one of those players who could be 0-for-14 in a game and still think the next shot is going in. How else can you explain the 3-ball he banged in with 4:30 left off a feed from KD? Prior to that bucket, Westbrook was 6-for-18 and 1-for-3 from 3. But he took a big time shot in a big-time moment. And buried it. That bucket gave the Thunder a 12-point lead and all but put the game out of reach.
  • The Jazz cut it to four with 23.4 seconds remaining, however, in part because KD wouldn’t shoot the ball while trying to get that final assist.
  • Westbrook’s steal and dunk was the dagger. It came off a Jazz inbounds play with 19.2 seconds left. It was a great read by Westbrook, but as Brooks said it also was great team defense to deny the other options.
  • Brooks: “It was well executed. 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.”
  • Not good tonight: the Thunder’s bench. B team scored 14 points on 5-for-23 shooting and nearly surrendered all the first-quarter momentum at the start of the second.
  • Kevin Martin played 28 minutes and scored five points on 2-for-9 shooting.
  • I did like the defense played by Nick Collson and Reggie Jackson.
  • Jackson is getting much better giving second and third efforts on ball screens. Keep an eye on that.
  • Derek Fisher was booed when his name was announced at the start of the second quarter and upon every touch he got.
  • Thabo Sefolosha was on fire tonight. Sort of. He made four of eight 3-pointers But strangely he air-balled two of those attempts. Weird.
  • Serge Ibaka brought his hard hat tonight: 16 points, eight boards and five blocked shots. That third quarter is when he really earned his money, scoring 10 with four boards and three blocks in the period.
  • Brooks: “Throughout the game he had a pretty good game, but in the third quarter he was really making shots and being a force on the defensive end.”
  • Unsung play of the game was when Ibaka took back momentum with an offensive rebound and putback with 4:13 left in the third quarter. The Jazz had just gotten away with a goaltend and Derrick Favors got a three-point play at the other end. It was a five-point swing that turned what should have been a 12-point Thunder lead to a seven-point game. When Ibaka put in that stick-back, it put the Thunder back up by nine and took the air out of both Utah’s sail and its crowd.
  • Up next. A potential first-round matchup at Golden State on Thursday.

-DM-

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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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