If you were looking for an easy Oklahoma City victory over a Utah Jazz team that came into tonight with the worst record in the Western Conference, you didn’t get it. The Jazz put together their best game of the season to outlast Kevin Durant and the Thunder, 112-101.
From the opening tip, the Jazz were playing very solid defense. They were making it difficult for the Thunder to hit shots, while on the other end, the Jazz were shooting lights out. The Jazz opened up the game with a 30 point quarter and never looked back.
However, things got interesting in the second half. After building a 24 point lead in the 3rd, the Thunder used a 14-6 run to close the quarter to trim the Jazz lead to 16. It didn’t stop there. The Thunder were able to trim the Jazz lead to as low as 5 points in the 4th quarter, but couldn’t quite come close enough to beat the young Jazz squad. However, the Thunder run wasn’t the story of the game.
Gordon Hayward had a career night. Kevin Durant had a huge night, but Hayward starred in the matchup. Durant had a game high 48 points, while Hayward finished with a career high 37. Not only did Hayward have a career high in points, but he finished the game with an absolute solid stat line. 37 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists.
In the 4th quarter, the two gave the crowd a show by both players wanting to take over the quarter. Durant took the ball on almost every possession for the Thunder, but wasn’t able to make a single field goal in the 4th quarter. However, he did go 11 of 13 from the free throw line in the quarter. Hayward however, went off in the quarter. He started off the quarter making a few bad passes and it looked to be costing the Jazz, but he then went on to score the final 17 points for the Jazz. Yes, Hayward scored the final 17 points for the Jazz in the game. Want to hear a cool stat?
Gordon Hayward scored the Jazz’s final 17 points. Last to score team’s final 17 in a win? LeBron James in April 2012 (H/T @EliasSports
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 8, 2014
Another impressive feat for Hayward, he was able to score 37 points on only 16 shot attempts. Yes, Durant did finish with 48 points, but it took Durant 34 shot attempts to get there.
Some other notes on the game :
Brandon Rush finally got back into the rotation. He was able to see the court for 10 minutes and finished with 5 points.
The Jazz had a 17-2 bench points advantage in the first half, but the Thunder caught up. The Jazz, however, still wont the bench battle 28-23.
Marvin Williams fouled out but did a great job defensively on Durant. He was able to get in his head a little by putting pressure on him. Durant got noticeably frustrated in the fourth when Marvin almost stole the ball from him and Durant went to shove Marvin. No foul was called.
Derrick Favors put Durant on a poster in the first half. Durant went to try and block Favors at the rim and Favors threw it down over the top of him and drew the foul. Incredible strength from Favors and really lit up the crowd.
Attention to fans sitting behind the basket!! It came to our attention that you can not throw things in the air while the other team is shooting free throws. It’s happened before, but since it was against Durant, it’s now a big deal.
After the game, Greg Miller sent out this tweet :
Tonight we got a glimpse into the future of the Utah Jazz… and I like it.
— Greg Miller (@GregInUtah) January 8, 2014
The future looks bright for the Jazz. Especially if the can play like this on a consistent basis. Add in another young piece from next year’s draft and the Jazz can be really, really good in the future.