In a hotly contested Western Conference battle, every game counts for those teams fighting for their postseason lives. That makes the way the Utah Jazz came out against the Oklahoma City Thunder quite baffling. After a listless, somewhat apathetic first half, the Jazz were blown out by the Thunder, 110-87.
Utah started well, jumping to a 12-6 lead midway through the first quarter. Then, in the blink of an eye, Oklahoma City went on a thunderous 44-16 run the rest of the half. The Jazz were absolutely atrocious from the floor, going a full eight minutes without scoring a single point. The Jazz players refused to drive to the basket, settling instead for long, contested jumpers. Even though the Thunder was not firing on all cylinders, it was throttling the Jazz with ease to take a 50-28 lead at the break.
The second half was much improved for Utah, as it was outscored by just one point, 60-59. The most excitement the second half produced was some chippy play by both teams, resulting in a pair of flagrant fouls and five of the technical variety. The Jazz made a decent run, but never got closer than a 15-point deficit.
Starts with the starters: As they tend to do, Oklahoma City’s starters set the tone early on and backed it up throughout. After a few minutes of rocky play, the quintet simply dominated. They put 59 points on the board, compared to their counterpart's paltry 26. The Thunder quintet did so well that they were able to rest the entire fourth quarter. No one played more than Kevin Durant’s 29 minutes. The sole blemish on their performance was the 19 turnovers they committed.
Conversely, the Jazz opening five faltered. They connected on just 9 of 35 from the floor. Not a single starter reached double-digit scoring. They, too, sat the entire final stanza, but suffice it to say, it was a less than satisfying rest for them.
Odds and ends:
— Excluding Hasheem Thabeet, every Oklahoma City player had a positive +/- mark. Earl Watson was the only Jazz player who could make that claim. OKC's Kendrick Perkins was scoreless, yet was +25. It was that kind of evening all around.
— Utah shot 11 more shots, yet made nine less than its opponent.
— There were a whopping 42 collective turnovers Wednesday night.
— Former Jazz guards Derek Fisher and Ronnie Brewer tallied 10 and four points, respectively for the Thunder.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.