The #TankNote crowd is unhappy tonight after the Utah Jazz won a very losable game in which they trailed most of the time. They hung around, never letting the Oklahoma City Thunder lead by more than 10 points, and then All-Star Lauri Markkanen absolutely took over the game in the 4th quarter shooting 8/12 from the field and scoring 18 points. The Thunder scored 20 points collectively in the 4th quarter, and they had no answers for The Finnisher down the stretch.
See exhibit A below:
And how about exhibit B while we’re at it:
While Markkanen exploded in the 4th quarter, the Thunder did control the majority of this game. The Jazz led 39-37 with 4:48 left in the second quarter, and then never led again until there were 4.6 seconds left in overtime. OKC’s All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was amazing in his own right tonight, posting 39 points, 7 assists, and 8 rebounds. He did a lot of his damage from the free-throw line, making 15 of his 19 attempts.
It would be a mistake not to mention the outstanding play of Walker Kessler in this game, he had 7 points, 18(!!) rebounds, and 7(!!!) blocks tonight. He had two incredibly clutch plays at the end of regulation, one incredibly tough putback to tie up the game with 4 seconds left:
Walker also denied the game-winning attempt by the Thunder at the buzzer:
The Jazz ended up sealing the game with Lauri Markkanen at the line after being fouled on a three-point attempt with 4.6 seconds left in the game. He drilled all 3 free throws, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s final attempt bounced out, advancing the Jazz to 30-31 on the season.
The biggest takeaway from this game is that Lauri Markkanen was the best player on the floor for significant stretches of this game, outdueling a consensus top 15 player in the NBA in SGA. It is going to be hard to lose a lot of games with Markkanen playing at this level, especially with a pretty soft schedule in the near future. The Jazz host the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night. The Spurs haven’t won a game in over a month, looking to make it 16 straight losses this weekend in Salt Lake City.