All winning streaks eventually end. The Utah Jazz had their six-game streak broken by the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 134-129 battle.
Utah dug a hole for themselves early, allowing the Thunder to build a big lead in the first quarter. Oklahoma City has a high-octane offense with one of the best players in the league, surrounded by secondary weapons. The Jazz had a tough time defending them, getting down by as many as 19 points. They spent the rest of the game trying to climb out of the hole.
The Thunder made the game very difficult for Lauri Markkanen, putting physicality and length on him at all times. Markkanen still scored 26 points on 13 shots, but it was far from easy. The Jazz put together extended runs in the second and third quarters, mostly with lineups that mixed the starters and bench. They came back to tie the game 91-91 late in the third quarter.
From then on, it was a game of short runs. OKC would extend their lead, and Utah would take it back to near even. The Jazz could never get quite enough to pull ahead, though. Even when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was out of the game, Jalen Williams stepped up and led the team. Collin Sexton and the Jazz kept on fighting but couldn’t get over the hump, and OKC won by five.
While the Jazz lost, this was an impressive showing for the team. Oklahoma City is one of the best teams in the league, and they couldn’t pull away from the Jazz. That first quarter may have discouraged the team earlier in the season and led to a blowout loss, but the Jazz today are better and mentally stronger than before. They’ll grow from this one.
Player of the game
Collin Sexton has been playing like a star for a couple of months, and tonight may have been his best showing yet. He scored 31 points (Jazz career-high), shot 52% from the field, 57% from three, and got to the line ten times. He also dished out seven assists while only turning the ball over twice. Sexton was a force keeping Utah in the game and refusing to give up. On top of that, he had one a dunk of the year candidate for the Jazz.
Lauri Markkanen: 26 points (7-13 FG, 2-4 3P, 10-11 FT), ten rebounds, four assists
Walker Kessler: seven points (3-4 FG, 1-2 FT), 11 rebounds, three blocks, +15