After Kevin Durant popped a 3 late in the second quarter, he dropped his head and half-halfheartedly pointed his finger to the sky to complete his routine.
It was a shot that made him 2-7 from the floor for eight points, but took a little of the sting out of one of his worst halves in recent memory. He had six turnovers to go with his rough shooting and just had a general look of either exhaustion, frustration, annoyance, or maybe all three.
His first half was no bother to his team though who were cruising over a hapless Jazz squad. The Thunder held Utah to just 28 first half points on 22.7 percent shooting, which included an OKC era record for fewest points in a quarter as the Jazz scored only nine in the second on 3-of-24 shooting. It was virtually game over within the first 24 minutes.
The only remaining question in the game was what was up with Durant. But right before the start of the third quarter, a lady tripped on the stairs by the Thunder bench, taking a hard spill. Naturally, it was Durant who was the first on the scene to help her up. And evidently, that moment gave KD his talent back.
“My confidence — I don’t care who you are, what type of player you are when you have confidence issues, turn the ball over so many times miss so many shots, you get down on yourself,” Durant said. “I just want to do so well all the time you know sometimes I can’t that well, but I get down on myself and I’m still learning how to get out of that.
After his #KDISACTUALLYVERYNICE moment, Durant went 5-of-6 for 15 points in 10 third quarter minutes to finish with 23 on 7-13 shooting, along with 10 rebounds. For the 14th time this season, he sat the entire fourth quarter as the Thunder walked over the Jazz, 110-87.
Credit Russell Westbrook too who had a nice offensive game going but pulled back on the reins to really defer to KD in that third quarter. Scott Brooks said postgame it was by design to get Durant going, but Westbrook was the catalyst, making sure to spark his teammate.
“I was struggling early on really bad and I was down on myself and my teammates came to my rescue I guess, but he was the main guy,” Durant said. “I really appreciate him doing that for me, because he could’ve easily let me fall to wayside but he kept me involved, kept my spirits and that’s what you want your point guard to do. He was great tonight.”
Once the Thunder sort of relaxed a bit, the Jazz got things going offensively in the second half, but check this: Utah had just six points in the paint in the first half. Six! (They finished with 32.) Shutting down Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors is quite the accomplishment and the Thunder held that frontline to a total of 33 points on 11-31 shooting with 22 rebounds. That’s big time work from Perk, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison.
“I thought their bigs did a great job to set the tone for their team in [the last game] in Utah. And I thought our bigs did a great job [tonight],” Brooks said. ”
At the front of it was Perk who while only recording three rebounds with zero points in 27 minutes, he held Jefferson to just eight points on 4-13 shooting.
“If you had to give a game ball, you’d give to him,” Brooks said. “He had a big impact throughout the game, not only on his man but anchoring our defense and not allowing any easy points in the paint in those first three quarters.”
For the Thunder, this is a sixth straight win at home, all by double-digits. Those six wins have a margin of victory of 23.8 points. The loss Monday in San Antonio stung, but the Thunder did all they could do. Like Durant, and the lady he helped up tonight, they got back up, dusted themselves off and bounced back. All you can do.
- In the third quarter DeMarre Carroll laid a nice little hip-check on KD. A flagrant was called for it, but immediately Westbrook went after Carroll. There’s a little history here. KD had a flagrant in Utah in the last game so this might’ve been payback for it. And Carroll even called Durant’s foul “dirty” after the game.
- Said KD of the exchange: “I was just trying to get my teammate away from it all. I saw Russ over there by himself, so that was the first thing I was concerned with. It was just a hard foul, that’s it. I did the same thing to one of their guys in Utah, so I couldn’t be too upset about it … ain’t nobody going to fight out here, first off.”
- It was a very chippy game. Five technicals called total, two flagrant fouls.
- KD helping up the lady was his only assist of the game. Hey-o.
- I think this might officially be the game that puts the nail in Utah’s playoff coffin. They looked like a defeated team.
- I’ve decided I don’t really like Scott Brooks’ early rotation where he subs out KD with about five minutes left in the first quarter. Problem with it is that Westbrook clearly takes on a big offensive responsibility early in games, which is good because he’s great with early energy. Except it basically means KD plays seven minutes and doesn’t do a whole lot other than decoy. It makes it tough for Durant to get in an early rhythm I think.
- This game was fairly boring with no real highlight type of plays. The video Kevin Martin’s reverse layup pretty much says it all, because that was about as exciting as it got.
- Serge Ibaka had quite the shiner over his left eye. Like, it was almost closed. He got it when he banged his face into Tim Duncan’s knee brace the other night.
- Utah scored only two points in the paint in the first quarter. In fact, they only attempted three shots in the paint that quarter too.
- Refs have really laid off on the pregame delay of game thing. OKC was wayyyyy late getting onto the floor tonight and there was nothing.
- Bad thing: Too many turnovers. The Thunder had 25 tonight.
- Good thing: Ball movement. The Thunder had 20 on 37 makes tonight.
- Westbrook nearly decapitated a cameraman with a wild pass in the third quarter. I saw the camera guy after the game — he’s headed for an Ibaka-like shiner.
- Perk stood up and yelled at ref Leroy Richardson in the fourth quarter, “Hey Leroy! 7-to-2!” (Meaning the fourth quarter foul count.) Richardson responded, “Your point?”
- The reaction of the Thunder bench to Reggie Jackson’s vanilla fast break dunk in the fourth can be described as “incredibly disappointed.”
- Westbrook: 19 points, nine assists, seven rebounds in 28 minutes. Splendid game.
- Up 20 points in the fourth quarter, Nick Collison sprawled out on the floor for a loose ball. It’s like he’s just showing off now.
- My favorite part of any Jazz visit to OKC: The emotional return of Earl Watson.
- Derek Fisher consistently gets one of the loudest cheers of any player when he checks in and to be honest, it’s kind of annoying.
- Starting lineups are still one of my favorite things in the NBA, but I just am not a fan the way the Thunder’s PA guy does it. It’s basically impossible to hear because it’s just yelled. No style to it at all.
- I’m not saying I’m hoping Fisher’s shots don’t go in, but I’m not exactly psyched when they do either. When they drop, it just means it helps validate playing time.
- After the game while the media waited for the players to dress, a reporter was sitting in a chair in front of Daniel Orton’s locker, who obviously is not here. Russell Westbrook walked in, saw it and immediately called the reporter out and saying loudly in front of everyone, “Those are for the players.” Everyone tried to awkwardly laugh it off, but Russ wasn’t kidding. A PR person came over and asked the reporter to get up. For really no reason at all, Westbrook was just showing the reporter up in front of everyone. A really childish, immature thing for him to do, but at this point, not surprising at all.
- Can’t even begin to describe my sadness in watching Derek Fisher play garbage time minutes instead of Jeremy Lamb, who is still in Tulsa.
Next up: Home against the Magic on Friday.