After an impressive win on opening night just two days ago, the Thunder traveled to Utah to take on the Jazz for their first road game of the season. The Thunder has dominated the Jazz in recent history, winning seven of the last eight games, but that was not the case tonight. Oklahoma City struggled throughout and tempers flared as Billy Donovan, Steven Adams, and Carmelo Anthony all picked up technical fouls for the Thunder as Utah jumped out to an early lead and held on as Oklahoma City fell to the Jazz 87-96.
Oklahoma City started off the night hot by jumping out to a 6-0 lead to begin the game, but the lead would not last for long. With four-and-a-half minutes left in the first quarter, the Thunder held a 12-11 advantage before the Jazz went on a 10-2 run to finish the first period ahead of the Thunder 21-14.
In the second quarter, the Jazz extended that run to 20-5 as Utah led 31-16. the Jazz would lead by as much as 19 points in the second quarter, but the Thunder put together a few solid possessions to trim the lead a bit and enter halftime down 34-44.
Oklahoma City came out in the third quarter with a fire in their eyes as they went on a 7-1 run to trim the deficit to four, but Utah would not let up as they continued to knock down shots. With just a minute left in the period, the Jazz held their largest lead of the night at 73-53 before the Thunder scored the final four points to end the third quarter trailing 57-73.
With Russell Westbrook and Paul George on the bench, Carmelo Anthony and a group from the second unit staged the makings of a comeback as they trimmed the deficit to 69-76. The Jazz kept doing what they had done all night, though, as they ran off five quick points to push their lead back to double digits. Oklahoma City would trail by double digits for most of the remainder of the fourth quarter before finishing down by nine.
3 Quick Thoughts
- No Need to Panic: Nobody likes to lose, and playing poorly for most of the game is definitely not what Thunder fans expected after a nice win just two days ago, but the fact of the matter is that it is going to take some time to develop true chemistry with this brand new lineup. Putting quality talent on the floor at the same time does not automatically equate to wins, and while tonight’s game was ugly, it’s only the second game of the season. This team is going to need some time to get adjusted, and hopefully that happens sooner than later.
- Shot Selection Needs Work: With so much firepower on the court at any given moment, there is no good reason for not moving the ball and finding an open man. The Thunder took far too many contested shots tonight, and even when they were open looks, they were too early in the shot clock. Sometimes it’s hard to turn down a good shot, but when there is a better one that is available, patience is key. For the second time in as many games, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George both took significantly more shots than Russell Westbrook. That aspect may need to change if this offense wants to be more consistent.
- The Defense is Capable: While the Thunder struggled to get stops at different points in the night, they held the Jazz to 96 points, which is something to be proud of. Oklahoma City ended the night with 14 steals, five of which came from Paul George, and the Thunder forced the Jazz into 19 turnovers. When it comes down to it, Oklahoma City needs to rely on its defensive potential to create opportunities on offense, and while the game did not end the way Thunder fans wanted it to, there are still plenty of positives to take away from the defensive side of things.
The Thunder will head home for a Sunday evening matchup where the Minnesota Timberwolves will be in town. The game will tip off at 6 PM CT and will be televised on FSOK. The game will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM. As usual, the Thunder Guys will have you covered with a game preview, live-tweeting, and post game material.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.