Utah Jazz report card: Jazz play solid defense, but OKC plays better to get win
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Jazz played solid defense against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. On a normal night at home where the Jazz average close to 100 points per game, it should have been enough to get a win, but the Thunder played even better defense as they rolled to a 90-80 victory. Kevin Durant led the way as he flirted with a triple-double, scoring 21 points to go with 12 rebounds and nine assists.
GUARDS: Mo Williams and Randy Foye didn't have the greatest of performances collectively. Williams finished with 19 points and six assists, but he ate up quite a few possessions in the process. Williams shot 7 of 17 overall and 2 of 7 from 3-point land. Foye was a bit more judicious with his shot selection as he finished 3 of 8 overall and 2 of 6 from 3-point distance. GRADE: C-.
FORWARDS: Gordon Hayward struggled from the field — much like Williams — but still finished high in the scoring department. Hayward's 17 points came off 6-of-16 shooting overall and 2-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. The Thunder's frontcourt made Paul Millsap a near non-factor Tuesday night. The undersized power forward put up eight points on 4-of-11 shooting to go with six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Millsap had the difficult task of guarding Serge Ibaka, who dominated the paint in the third quarter. Ibaka went for 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Four of those rebounds came on the offensive glass and led to second-chance scoring opportunities. GRADE: C-.
CENTERS: Al Jefferson was the only Jazz player to reach a double-double as he finished with 15 points and 11 boards. The Thunder did a tremendous job defensively against the Jazz frontcourt as Jefferson was forced to take uncomfortable shots out of his normal shooting range. GRADE: C+.
BENCH: Of all the facets of the game, the Jazz bench came up more or less empty. Collectively, the Jazz bench produced 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting. Derrick Favors had the best overall line with eight points, eight rebounds and five blocks. DeMarre Carroll had considerable playing time in the absence of Marvin Williams, who was out with stomach flu. Carroll did not make very much of his 23 minutes as he finished with three points on 1-of-6 shooting overall and 1-of-3 shooting from 3-point land. The Jazz bench really missed Alec Burks, who was out nursing a sprained ankle. GRADE: C-.
OVERALL: The Jazz had an opportunity to take an almost commanding lead of the eighth spot in the Western Conference with a win over Oklahoma City. The Thunder were solid defensivly and when the Jazz didn't settle on 3-point jumpers, the Thunder contested every other shot, forcing the Jazz into low shooting percentages. The Jazz hit 39.2 percent overall and 28 percent from 3-point range. The Jazz can still make the playoffs regardless of the outcome between Los Angeles and New Orleans. GRADE: C-.
Tyler Huskinson is a freelance journalist who loves to cover sports. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @TDHuskiSports.
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