Yeah, well, okay. The Utah Jazz (29-17) just had their six game win-streak snapped by the Oklahoma City Thunder (26-19), 97-95. Russell Westbrook hit a game winner with 1.4 seconds to play capping a tremendous 30-23 quarter for his club in the come from behind victory - ON THE ROAD. Westbrook got his first career triple double against the Jazz, and had a very healthy 38 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block night. He didn’t shoot well, except from the line. And when it counted he made the only shot that mattered — the last one in a time game.
It sucks, because the play before the Jazz ran Quin Snyder’s diagram to perfection getting Gordon Hayward an open three to tie the game 95-95 all that took only 2 seconds off of the clock. This was a close game. And on a normal night (e.g. a night where the Jazz don’t go 23.8% from downtown and Rudy Gobert doesn’t miss 5 FTs) this is a win. Or at least that’s the new normal -- finding ways to win despite imperfect play.
I have to hand it to the Thunder, they were scrappy out there (more offensive rebounds, more points off of turn overs), and a big part of that is Steven Adams. If you are incapable of matching his intensity, or if you let them get extra possessions (there was some great hustle from Enes Kanter in the fourth as well), you’re probably going to lose. Much of this team has been together deep in the NBA Playoffs. And they finished this game off well.
They were motivated by a number of sources. They lost their last two games by about point points each, and lost them on the road to West playoff teams - the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. They did not want to make it three losses in a row to playoff rivals and had to take care of business tonight, especially since the last time these two teams played the Jazz ALSO beat the Thunder by 20.
Utah was tired, missing Rodney Hood, this was the third game in four nights, blah blah blah. I’m tired of excuses. And I don’t think they are valid anymore because this team had recently found ways over the last six games to make up for the excuses and win. Period.
Gordon Hayward struggled with his shot, Derrick Favors was solid but not spectacular. George Hill was over-matched by an MVP candidate so I’m not going to eat his lunch for that. The Jazz got a big boost from their bench tonight, including some fiery play from Alec Burks.
If the Jazz played with a little more attention they would have won, and kept the streak alive. Forget about the streak, being able to beat good teams when their best player is rolling is a skill our guys need to develop.
I’m not happy at this loss. But I’m not devastated about it either. There are 82 games in a season. Losing on a bow legged jumper by Russell Westbrook with 1.4 seconds to play doesn’t make me throw my TV out the window. (Okay, maybe a little, but still...)
It’s an 82 game season. The Jazz fly out over the mountains tonight to face the Denver Nuggets in their gym tomorrow.