USA TODAY Sports
The Jazz put up a pretty terrible performance against Oklahoma City in an important game. Luckily, the Lakers lost as well.
This was an important game for the Jazz. Sure, given Oklahoma's City's only allowed 4 losses at home, it would be foolish to expect to win, but it was a good opportunity for the Jazz to perhaps fight for a win to make up a game on the hated Lakers as the end of the season approaches.
Instead, the Jazz struggled severely, especially in a 21-9 2nd quarter in which the Jazz didn't score in the final 7:49. For emphasis, there was a long stretch of this game in which the Jazz simply scored no points at all. Indeed, the Jazz finished 3-24 (12.5%) in the 2nd quarter, not exactly stellar execution. Indeed, the Jazz simply seemed out of their offensive rhythm all night, being able to execute neither the post-up focused primary offense, or the secondary flex offense.
While the Thunder should be credited for good defense, Utah simply seemed off their game nearly all night: Hayward airballed two shots (though finished with 20 points), Al Jefferson was only 4/13, Millsap finished 1-5 (albeit went 5-8 from the free throw line), Mo Williams shot 2-7 and had 4 turnovers. The Thunder also deserve some credit for fighting through the early offensive struggles by Kevin Durant, who had 6 TOs by the end of the half.
Once the game got out of hand, it got chippy. DeMarre Carroll had a hard foul on Kevin Durant on a fast break, provoking a response, and a technical, from Russell Westbrook. Later, Hasheem Thabeet had a flagrant against Hayward, leading to some pushing and technicals for Marvin Williams, Enes Kanter, and Thabeet.
A 4th quarter lineup of Watson/Hayward/Marvin/Favors/Kanter brought a 32 point Jazz deficit back down to just 16 at one point, but the Jazz came back no further. The +/- numbers from this game as a result are interesting: only Earl Watson finished with a positive +4, while the rest of the team was all negative: Al Jefferson finished with a -24, Mo Williams with a -18, Burks with a -16, and Millsap finished with a respectable -8. Favors finished with a -7, and Kanter a -3.
The larger picture is pretty unclear: while the Jazz have a significantly harder schedule than the Lakers for the rest of the year, Kobe Bryant finished injured in LAL's loss to Atlanta tonight and is out indefinitely. That injury may provide an opening to the Jazz to make the playoffs for the second straight year.
How much should we read into this loss? Is it indicative that the Jazz are truly bad, or simply the logical result of playing one of the best teams in the league on the road? Luckily, comment sections exist for responses to these very sort of questions.