Another loss at home by the hands of another white hot point guard. It was like Deja-vu from Wednesday night with the Bulls. Tonight was Deron Williams turn to be perfect from the field in the third quarter (6/6), much like Derrick Rose was in the second half two nights ago.
In tonight’s matchup, the Thunder never really seemed in control of the game at any time. They managed a one point lead at the end of the first using a 9-2 run, but the Jazz came out in the second and went on an 8-2 run of their own. Meanwhile the Thunder began to turn the ball over. Big surprise eh? This team does a lot of self inflicted damage. The Thunder entered halftime having turned the ball 12 times and closing out 2/10 shooting. In fact, we shot a measly 5/17 in the second quarter as a whole (29%), while the Jazz were putting on a pick and roll clinic and shooting 50% in the quarter.
As I mentioned, the third quarter is where Deron Williams lit fire and was an offensive force. Westbrook couldn’t stay in front of him at all. Basically all Westbrook did to defend him was to foul him, which he did on back to back plays. But first Williams stroked a couple of jumpers in Westbrook’s grill just to get him thinking shot defense, then it was all drives. It obviously got me thinking we needed to switch Thabo on him like Brooks did in against Rose on Wednesday. Brooks did, and it didn’t make any difference. Once Williams crossed up Thabo so bad that he almost fell. Thabo picked up his 4th foul and Westbrook his second and third working on Williams in the third.
Besides the Deron Williams offense clinic in the third, the Jazz also didn’t turn the ball over and won the quarter on the boards 8-10 including 4-1 on the offensive boards. The Thunder shot well in the quarter (10/17-59%) but they couldn’t get stops.
In the fourth the Thunder finally began to show some intensity. It’s not that they weren’t playing hard earlier in the game, but it just seemed like they didn’t want it badly. That all changed in the fourth when the Thunder began getting a few stops with steals and forcing turns and hammering the boards. Durant had three offensive boards in the fourth and Collison had three and the Thunder cut the lead to 4 at 96-90 on a Thabo dunk with a 1:15 to go.
The Jazz, cool as a cuke, just went about their business and the Thunder just kept fouling and sending them to the line to finish it off.
- It was a medium-fast paced game tonight with 94 possessions, just about average for these two teams that both run selectively.
- Our offensive efficiency was a disappointing 100 points/100 possessions; Utah’s was 107.
- The defensive play of the night might have been when Chucky Atkins swiped Mehmet Okur across the face inadvertently and rung his bell. He left the game and never came back. He was leading the team in scoring at the time and was having a good matchup with Krstic.
- Speaking of Chucky, weren’t we told after he was acquired in the Petro trade that he was a good three point shooter? He is a career 36% threeballer but he is only 7-24 7-28 (25%) as a Thunder…er?
- I like Grant Long as the color guy. He has this demeanor whereby he doesn’t really offend. He is just sort of an even tempered positive contributor, and not a nuisance like his partner in the box. But again I have to take issue with Grant. During halftime he and Davis were talking about Westbrook’s first half numbers in glowing terms and Grant said “He’s playing with a lot of patience tonight, and he’s not turning the ball over at an alarming rate”. At that time Westbrook had four turns. Again, my college dropout math ability tells me that would extrapolate to 8 turns in a full game. Not alarming? C’mon Grant, what number of turns constitutes “alarming” to you? At least RW didn’t turn it the rest of the game.
- However, the league’s worst team at hanging on to the ball managed to turn it over 18 times-Durant was the worst culprit with 6. Those turns led to 23 Jazz points.
- I was a little disappointed in Westbrook for only getting 4 assists in 35 minutes. He really needs to look to his teammates more with the ball in his hands and not call his number as much. He was good with his own offense tonight, but he needs to look pass first for this team to really take another step forward.
- To illustrate my point above, RW used up 18 possessions, or 26% of the possessions while he was in the game, but Jeff Green used up only 14 possessions and had the same number of assists as Westbrook.
- The Jazz had 110 scoring opportunities (FGA+FTA), while the Thunder only had 100. Those 8 extra turns take the ball out of our hands and give it to them to score with.
- We sent them to the line 26 times tonight, yet only got there ourselves 14 times.
- We did wind up winning the rebound battle 46-40.
- Krstic is no Euro-wimp by any means, but Collison just absolutely “toughens up” the frontline when he comes into the game. I think he is a player every team would like to have.
The next game is Sunday on the road in Minny. Hopefully we can get that 20th win (in the third try) to equal the win total of last season.