The Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder faced off for the first time this season Monday night, in a rematch of last year's heated first-round series, which the Jazz won 4-2 to advance to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The Thunder, meanwhile, saw their 2017-18 campaign come to an ignominious and unexpected end.
Oklahoma City dominated the one-game rematch, however, and defeated Utah 122-113, a final score that makes the game look closer than it was.
Here are four takeaways from the Jazz’s loss to the Thunder.
Oklahoma City forward Paul George was simply superb Monday night. The All-Star finished with a game-high 31 points, to go along with four steals — another game-high — and three rebounds. The California native connected on eight of 10 shots.
“Paul George was terrific,” Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said.
George was particularly effective in the third quarter. He scored 17 points in the frame, 12 of which came courtesy of 3-pointers.
George finished the game 5 of 6 from behind the arc and hit 10 of 12 free throws for good measure.
George wasn’t the only Thunder player to have success against the Jazz. Center Steven Adams and backup point guard Dennis Schroeder were nearly as effective in their time on the court.
The pair finished with 22 and 23 points, respectively, while Adams added seven rebounds and Schroeder six assists. For added measure, the duo combined to make 12 of 14 attempts from the charity stripe.
“Those guys gave great efforts,” Snyder said.
He continued, noting that Schroder “looks like he is enjoying playing. He has grown and you can see he is in a good place.”
While the Thunder were on fire much of the night — Oklahoma City shot 50.6 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from three — the Jazz were anything but. While Utah’s final shooting percentage was excellent — 51.2 percent — the Jazz struggled from behind the arc and made just 8 of their 29 three-pointers attempted. Donovan Mitchell (3 of 8), Ricky Rubio (0 of 3) and Kyle Korver (1 of 7) were the biggest offenders — all three shot under 40 percent from 3 in the game.
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The Jazz were plagued by turnovers and finished with 20 giveaways, compared to 17 for the Thunder. Turnovers were particularly instrumental in Oklahoma City’s strong third quarter — the Thunder outscored the Jazz 42-29 in the frame. Utah had twice as many turnovers as Oklahoma City did midway through the third period, before improved defense in the fourth brought the game totals closer together.
“When you turn the basketball over, it is hard to defend against that,” Snyder said. “We didn’t execute. That is what it came down to.”
Wednesday, Dec. 12, vs. Miami (11-14), 7 p.m MST
Saturday, Dec. 15, vs. Orlando (12-15) at ARENA CIUDAD DE MÉXICO, 3 p.m MST
Monday, Dec. 17, at Houston (11-14), 6 p.m. MST