Just a little over two weeks ago, the Thunder put a 21 point loss on the Jazz, and at that time it was the first win of the season over a winning team. Tonight, the Jazz got a payback, slapping us with a 20 point loss. Box Score.
The Jazz were very efficient tonight offensively, scoring 110 points and ringing up 32 assists on 86 made field goals. They shot 51% from the field, 41% from deep and had an effective field goal rate of 55%. On the other side of the ball the Jazz had 12 steals, forced 25 turnovers and limited our field goal shooting to 48 % overall and 18% from deep (2/11).
I think we all knew that we would suffer defensively with the loss of Desmond Mason, and tonight our fears were realized. Desmond’s defense to me really comes in four parts. Firstly he plays defense physically. He bodies up on people, leans on them, bangs on them and disturbs their rhythm. Secondly he plays good position defense with his body placement, long arms and his foot work. Thirdly he protects the basket when somebody does get past him. He’ s a good shot blocker for his size and he really works at denying the basket at the rim. And lastly, he brings an attitude defensively, a tenacity, a mean streak on defense. Tonight, we saw rookie Kyle Weaver attempt to fill Mason’s shoes. Weaver doesn’t body up on guys; he does however make good use of positioning and the long arms. He doesn’t protect the basket much (he did attempt to take a charge, but was called for blocking). And Kyle seems like a laid back, “let the game come to you” type of defender. Not that Weaver is bad defensively, he just doesn’t have those four aspects that Mason brings. Mason is a warrior, Weaver is smooth.
The Thunder as a whole, for whatever reason, simply couldn’t stop the Jazz from scoring tonight. The Jazz had 95 points on the board and a 20 point lead at the end of the third quarter. They shot better than 52% in each of those first three quarters. The defensive improvement we’ve become accustomed to in the new year definitely took a night off.
- I definitely didn’t care for the backcourt of Chucky Atkins and Earl Watson. It forces Earl to play the two and defend the two, of which he did neither especially well. Korver blocked him cleanly while he was trying to create his own shot, and CJ Miles posted him up like he wasn’t even there.
- Early on I really noticed Durant working hard on defense. He has obviously been working at it. Tonight I saw him down in a defensive stance with his arms out attempting to disrupt. We haven’t seen much of that before from KD.
- Utah got 4 offensive boards and a putback all in one possession, right over the top of Krstic and Wilcox.
- The Jazz really know how to run the Pick and Roll to perfection.
- By the middle of the second period, Krstic and Collison each had three fouls. Wilcox was sent to man the paint for the Thunder and the rout was on. Utah put 36 on us in the quarter and the Weezer was -11 in 9 minutes of play.
- Harpring really bodied up on Durant and forced him into a couple of tough shots; later, Korver tried to get too close and Durant rang his bell with that move where he brings the shot attempt up through the defenders arms (and face if it’s too close).
- At one point in the early third period, Utah was tracking with an offensive efficiency of 144 to our 106!
- All 5 Jazz starters finshed with double digit scoring. In fact their starters totaled 90 points, matching our our entire team scoring output.
- Our 25 turnovers matched the season high. The other time we had 25 was in P.J.’s last coached game against New Orleans.
- The Jazz scored 20 points off of our 25 turns.
- The Jazz had 109 scoring opportunites (field goal attempts plus free throw attempts), we had 96.
- We finished with an offensive efficiency of 98, and a defensive efficiency of 119.
- We won the rebounding battle again 43-34, but if you give the ball away as much as we did, it pretty much gets cancelled out.
- Westbrook and Durant each had nice nights, less the turns. Durant had 5 and Westbrook had 4.
- Our bench gave us 17 points tonight. Any chance Mr. Presti can find a bench scorer for one of our expiring contracts?
Next up is a road game on Sunday against one of the worst (lately) defensive teams on the planet: Sacramento. They haven’t held a team under 106 points in the last ten games. Hopefully we can get right in Arco arena. The game should just about be over in time for the Superbowl to start.