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Jazz spoil Enes Kanter's return to Utah, Thunder blow a 16 point lead

OKC: 32 - 17 - 17 - 23 -- 89
UTA: 21 - 26 - 29 - 18 -- 94

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

What a crazy game. The Oklahoma City Thunder are fighting for playoff position. The Utah Jazz were fighting for what seemed like so much more tonight, they wanted to rebound after the poor showing the previous night in Denver; they wanted to face the team they made a big trade with; they wanted to go after a player who put up some bulletin board material; they wanted to celebrate Hot Rod who passed away yesterday; and most of all, they needed to win to break a four game losing streak.

And for the most part, they did ALL of that in 48 minutes of defense first action. The Jazz forced 23 turn overs, 9 of which were called on Russell Westbrook. The Thunder also shot only 42.5% -- for an offensive club those numbers are flat out offensive. Yes they got to the FT line over 30 times, but they shot like the Jazz from there so it didn't hurt that much. What did hurt OKC was the Jazz capitalizing on playing solid defense, particularly getting easy transition buckets. (Utah had 15 fast break points, which was pretty much their total for the month.) The Jazz play at a slow pace so easy buckets are very well received.

Enes Kanter didn't really get the reception he felt he deserved, but he took it in stride as he was booed every time he touched the ball, his name was called, or whenever he came into the game. Yes, he finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 5 fouls, and a tech. But he didn't get the win. And that may be the deciding factor. He learned quite a bit from Big Al Jefferson -- mainly that you can make a lot of money by just playing offense. And that there's always going to be some team willing to pay you, if they aren't serious about wins. The Jazz traded Kanter, and focused on playing better on both sides of the ball. And they did that tonight and got the win. No Derrick Favors, no Alec Burks, no Kevin Durant, no Serge Ibaka. But it still counts in my books.

The Jazz were down by 16 in the first half buy climbed back to be down by only 2 after 24:00 minutes. They took the lead in the third, and defended their homecourt despite a flurry of foul calls and Russell Westbrook drives. This is the feel good home win of the season so far, and they really earned it.

  • Dante Exum -- 6 points, 1 rebound, made two threes
  • Rodney Hood -- 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block
  • Gordon Hayward -- 17 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
  • Trevor Booker -- 12 points, 3 rebounds, endless hustle -- dude made a three
  • Rudy Gobert -- 13 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 steals, 1 assist, did get scored on by Kanter a few times, but won the war by shutting down the paint for the rest of OKC's team
  • Trey Burke -- 22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 2 turn overs, got to the line 7 times, made 5
  • Joe Ingles -- 6 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 3/4 shooting
  • Chris Johnson -- hustled like crazy to hit a dagger three during a turning point in the game
  • Jeremy Evans -- still is too good to actually give playing time too, 4 points, 3 rebounds, 100% shooting
  • Jack Cooley -- Continues to be an offensive force, got a contested rebound, and put up a contested layup when we needed a score
  • Elijah Millsap -- added a steal and a block, didn't get to play much though

I'm very happy for this win, Utah really needed it after everything they went through over the last 24 hours (not including the NCAA thing). The Jazz play next on Monday @ the Timberwolves.