Kevin Durant Should Have Paid For His ESPN Insider Access, Jazz Finally Beat Thunder, 140-139

Attention NBA fans....

The Jazz were the first team in NBA history to be given a win based on a non-call from a referee.  Did CJ foul Durant on his final shot?  Yes.  Would I be pissed if I was a Thunder fan?  Hell, yes.  But I'm not going to lose any sleep over it and neither should you (if you're a Jazz fan).  You can talk karma, but I say it was karma paying Durant back after this tweet,

Duranttwitter_medium

Man, I guess those rookie contracts just don't pay like they used to.

That's all I have to say about that because it takes away from what was probably the best regular season game in the NBA this year.  If that foul had been called, and the Jazz would have lost, it still would have been the game of the year, it just would have had a bitter taste to it.

Just like with some of the other huge games this season (Gaines game, comeback against Portland, etc.), where do you start?  I'm not going to get toa fraction of what I should for this game, but here we go.

First, Kevin Durant and Deron Williams were unconscious; even more than usual if that's possible.  There are a lot of games where the stats don't show the true story behind a player's performance.  These are pretty close though.

Durant, 45 points, 4 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 7 three-pointers, 12 free-throws, and 13-29 shooting.

Deron, 42 points, 10 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover (42 minutes), 4 three-pointers, 10 free-throws, 14-23 shooting.

Durant's 45 points were just short of his career high.  His line shows just how dominant he was yet it doesn't show where those shots were coming from.  He was nailing shots from everywhere.  What's scary was how effortless he can put up 30-footers.  He's got a unique set of arms that lets him coil up and let it fly with just a little power.  He had a turnaround 40-footer at the end of regulation that he took falling backwards and off his back foot and it bounced off the back of the rim.  Take that in.  It wasn't short, it was long and almost in.

He single-handily brought the Thunder back in this game.  The Jazz went up 11 with 3 minutes left in the game after Deron nailed a three-pointer.  Durant responded with 3 three-pointers and a three-point play in response in those final three minutes.  Every time the Jazz would get some separation, he came back down and nailed a three.

After CJ made a nifty pass to Boozer for a dunk with :54 seconds left in the game, the Jazz were up 6, 127-121.  At this point, you start feeling that the Jazz have this one, but no, it's another three by Durant.  And the fact that he had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, despite being 40-feet away, will haunt me.

Then of course you have the final play in OT.  As mentioned above, it was a foul and thank goodness it was because there's a good chance he nails that.

The Jazz had an answer though in Deron Williams and they needed every bit of it.  He was as equally awesome. He had some late-game slip-ups with a lazy pass that looked like it was going to Boozer that got picked off.  I'm not sure if he was trying a give and go or what but I wasn't sure what that pass was for.  He also ended up taking jumpers late instead of maybe taking it to the paint or creating for someone else.

He came through when it mattered the most.  After Jeff Green had made a layup in OT to give the Thunder a 139-140 screen, the Jazz ran an inbound play for Deron to get the last shot.  The ball was in-bounded to Boozer while Deron ran through a couple of picks to get the ball.  He came around the left elbow, got the ball from Boozer, and nailed the long jumper in what would be the game-winner.  He had missed a couple of shots earlier in the game that would have clinched the win for the Jazz so it was good to see him get that one.

He has finally been turning heads this year with his stellar play.  He's even turned Bill Simmons into a believer,

Deron W. has been so good this year that I'm retiring the STP jokes. (reference)

Of course when he doesn't get any calls going to the hole, maybe mid-range jumpers are a better option.  The Jazz fan collective held their breath when Deron went up for a dunk over Ibaka, got hit with the body, then went down in a heap.  He was holding his shoulder when the cameras were on him.  He was able to get back up and resume playing though.  It looks like he just had had the wind knocked out of him.

This is probably one of the top 5 games of his career.  You have a career night in points, a game-winner, and all in the thick of a playoff race no less.  Huge, huge game.

Those two were the big stories of the night.  Everyone had contributions so I'll try to hit on some of them.

  • Jeff Green had a huge night.  29 & 7 and the clutch three to tie the game at the end of regulation. 
  • CJ hit a big three late.  He didn't have the best game shooting but had a couple of slick passes.
  • Memo, He got the Jazz going early with his threes.  Didn't contribute really late but he got the Jazz off to a much-needed good start.
  • Boozer with an overshadowed 28 & 15 including 7 offensive boards and 5 assists.  His dunk over Ibaka was one of his top 5 in his career.  He seemed to keep elevating on that one.
  • Wesley Matthews was another that didn't shoot too well but nailed a couple of threes and hit two clutch free throws late.  Can't say enough about this kid.
  • And Millsap had 15 & 7 and one huge block on Durant, the only block of the game at the time.

So with the win of course, it puts the Thunder 3 1/2 games back of the Jazz and gives Utah sole possession of the two-spot for the time being.  That puts a little pressure on everyone else to win tomorrow night.

The Jazz will of course be in action tomorrow against the Rockets in Houston.  They are coming off a win in Memphis so both will be playing the second game of a back to back.  I don't see how that game can hope to come close to this game.  Exciting or not, a win there counts the same as this win.

And I'm spent.

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