The Utah Jazz were blown out by the Oklahoma City Thunder 134-120. The final score doesn’t give the whole picture. Near the end of the third quarter, the Jazz were down by more than thirty as the Oklahoma City Thunder put the clamps on defense and shot the lights out to put the game away.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was an absolute monster, going 12/17 from the field for 30 points with 4 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals. Chet Holmgren was also fantastic for OKC, as he scored 16 points with 8 rebounds but looked dominant on both ends of the floor.
The good news for the Jazz is that Keyonte George looked good, and it wasn’t just in the second half when he was playing against the second string. George showed great stuff in the first half and then looked dominant in the second against the Thunder’s bench players. This is the type of game where you’re seeing him figure things out. Despite getting absolutely blitzed by some of these better teams, and dealing with the poor play of Jordan Clarkson, Talen Horton-Tucker, and sometimes with Collin Sexton, he’s playing better game after game and we should see him continue to shine.
We are also getting to see Taylor Hendricks. Half the Jazz starting unit is missing games with injury, which is clearing the way for Hendricks to get time, and we’re seeing the potential with Hendricks game after game. It should only get better with time but these minutes are invaluable for Hendricks as he adjust to NBA game speed.
That said, the Thunder and the Jazz are in different places. For years, the Thunder have been building their team with the draft and accumulating assets. It looks like that process is mostly complete as they now are running on all cylinders. They have a top-5 caliber offensive payer in SGA and now have a rookie of the year front-runner in Chet Holmgren who is playing at an elite level on both ends. They’re a quiet contender but are going to be getting better each and every year.
The Jazz are on the other end of the spectrum. They are dealing with an injury to their best player in Lauri Markkanen, they missed Walker Kessler tonight, they didn’t have John Collins either. That leaves Keyonte George, a rookie point guard, playing with a lot of players that are either bench players, or not getting minutes on a contender. Despite that he puts up a line of 30 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds. Maybe a lot of Jazz fans didn’t see it, or are complaining the team didn’t win, but the Jazz are in the process of finding pieces for the future, and they certainly look like they’ve already found one in George.