It was another impressive performance from Oklahoma City, as they beat the Utah Jazz 122-113 in game 25-of-82. The Thunder’s defense was stifling, giving the Jazz problems all night long. It was an impressive bounce back win after a close loss in Chicago three days ago.
Oklahoma City forced Utah to turn the ball over 20 times, 11 of those coming from Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were also in foul trouble all night, both heavily struggling to get anything going against this Thunder defense.
Paul George was the man of the game, who seemingly could not miss, especially catching fire in the second half. He put up 31 points on just 10 shot attempts, going 10-for-12 from the free throw line. He was unconscious from three, hitting five of his six attempts from deep.
George did it on both ends, ending the game with four steals of his own, in a game which was one of his best of the young Thunder season. Tonight cemented him firmly in the very early MVP discussions, playing great basketball on both ends of the floor.
Oklahoma City was in control of this game from the very beginning, setting a tone early with their defense. They jumped out to a 6-0 lead to begin the game, causing Quin Snyder to call a very early timeout. It didn’t stop the bleeding though, as this Jazz team looked lost offensively for the majority of this game. A big part of that was Oklahoma City holding Mitchell in check for most of the night. Donovan finished with 19 points, but shot just 40 percent from the floor.
Schröder was a big part in Oklahoma City’s win tonight, running the second unit flawlessly, especially to begin the second quarter. Dennis finished with 23 points on an efficient 53 percent from the floor.
Oklahoma City really imposed their will in the third quarter, putting up 42 points while holding the Jazz to 29. Oklahoma City led by as much as 29 in this game, and the final score did not indicate how dominant of a performance this was from the Thunder.
Steven Adams made Rudy Gobert frustrated all night, as he could get nothing going, all the while unable to stop fouling Adams down low. Steven finished with 22 points and seven boards.
In one of Thunder’s more dominant performances of the season, Westbrook found himself struggling more than he has all year. He could not get anything to fall offensively, and was abysmal from the charity stripe.
Impressively enough, though, Russell somehow managed to finish the game with his 110thcareer triple double. He was the first to leave the floor at the end of the game, visibly frustrated with his performance.
Westbrook finished his rough night with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. It is a testament to how much better this team is this year compared to last year’s, as a performance like this from Russell last year would’ve most likely had a game like tonight’s end in a loss.
“I think it is about our team, we played with good pace,” Billy Donovan said. “Guys are trying to play the right way. It was just an overall team effort. Russell in his way, contributed also.”
This is a very deep Thunder squad, as coach Donovan alluded to, and tonight was a great example of that. With the way this team consistently plays defense, they don’t need crazy offensive performances to win games against good opponents, as they seemingly defend with a purpose no matter how the game is going on the offensive side of the ball.
Oklahoma City is now 1-0 versus Utah this year, with three more meetings left. One of those meetings will happen in less than two weeks. As of now, Oklahoma City finds themselves tied at first in the Western Conference standings, with a 17-8 record. Utah falls to 13-15 on the year, which puts them at 14th in the Western Conference.
Oklahoma City will now travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans on Wednesday, and then to Denver to face the Nuggets on Friday. Those games will be big on how the Western Conference standings will look like after week nine of NBA action.
Keys To The Game
Slow down Mitchell: A
Oklahoma City put the clamps down on Donovan early, and never let up. Mitchell got going a bit before halftime, but he was pretty non existent besides that. Thunder got him to turn the ball over, and also had him in foul trouble for most of the night.
Limit second chance points for Utah: B
Utah pulled down 11 offensive boards, but Oklahoma City did a great job of giving Utah limited second chance opportunities, a big part in that was Steven Adams dominating down low.
Take advantage at the free throw line: B+
Oklahoma City got to the charity stripe early and often. They hit 72 percent of their attempts, which is acceptable for how bad this team has been at the free throw line at times. The Thunder did a good job of getting to the rim and drawing fouls, getting the Jazz in foul trouble.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!