Did Utah Win? 43rd Edition: Jazz Can’t Catch Lightning, Fall to Thunder.
Welcome to the Lazy Utahn’s recap of the most recent Utah Jazz game. Do you want to talk to your friends about the game, impress them with cool stats, and act like you watch all 82 games like a true die hard even if you didn’t catch the big game last night? We got you covered in this simplistic breakdown of each topic that may arise from the latest Utah Jazz showdown.
Did Utah win?
All good things come to an end. Every storm runs out of rain. Rules were meant to be broken. You live and then you die.
Utah’s 6 game winning streak and 9 game home streak fell by the wayside last night in a hard fought 134-129 defeat at the hands of Oklahoma City.
If thunder comes after lightning, Utah comes after both apparently.
Doom and gloom aside the Jazz competed well and rallied from a 19-point deficit to make the Thunder worry.
OKC played a fantastic game through and through, and Utah was still around in the end of it all.
This loss should only bolster the fact that this recent stretch of good basketball is legitimate and no fluke rather than diminish it.
After all, the Thunder are currently the #2 seed in the West, and have two #1 guys who can take over a ball game in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams.
Simply put, the Thunder took every punch Utah threw and answered back behind one of those two players.
The Jazz tied it up twice in the third and were mostly in striking distance throughout the 4th, but would never lead.
Utah falls to 22-21 on the season (still amazing to see an above .500 record) and remains 9th in the West, 2 games behind #7 Sacramento and 1.5 behind #8 Phoenix.
Ok, so the Thunder is for real it seems.
If you haven’t been following the Thunder closely throughout the year, then you would likely assume the hot start would fade over time, but OKC has proven themselves to be a complete team and a likely playoff threat.
I wouldn’t expect them to hold off Denver or even the Clippers the rest of the year, but a playoff team, and a first round homecourt advantage team seems doable.
Once again, it’s the stars for the Thunder, their rebuilding efforts have produced literal star caliber players in a short time.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 31 points, got to the line 17 times and hit an absurd shot or two.
Jalen Williams poured in a cool 27 points, 11 of which came in the 4th quarter on perfect shooting.
Williams not only led all scorers in the 4th but dished more assists than anyone on the floor.
He now has 25 points or more in three straight games.
Everyone else simply knows their role. No player seems out of place or out of rhythm.
For a more complete look at the victor last night, Keith Smith has you covered:
If the Thunder are tough, and we played them tough, then that must mean that we, in turn, are tough.
That’s one way to find optimism in the loss, but yeah, I would agree with that.
As Smith alluded to above, Collin Sexton was once again undeniable.
A game after posting his first 30-burger in a Jazz uniform he went out and did it again.
Sexton posted 31 points, 7 assists, went 4/7 from deep and got to the line ten times.
What he has done the last month, and the way he continues to play is the definition of a revelation.
Sexton has evolved from a fun prospect, to a limited scorer, to a complete winning player who makes the team instantly better when he steps on the hardwood.
Lauri Markkanen had a hard earned 26 points with ten rebounds while going 10/11 from the stripe. All-star effort and numbers continue to follow Lauri in almost every game this year.
Sexton and Markkanen combined for 19 of Utah’s 34 points in the 4th quarter as the game got tight.
John Collins had 21 points on 11 shots and hit all six free throw tries, but the Thunder were one of the few teams this year that were unfazed by him at the 5.
Despite a great offensive showing, the Thunder scored at will with Collins on the floor, evident by his -19 night and the Thunder start in the 4th quarter when Collins was the man protecting the paint.
Walker Kessler only played less than a minute more than Collins but was much more impactful on the defensive end.
3 blocks, 11 rebounds, 5 of which were offensive, and 7 points on 3 of 4 shooting gave Kessler a +15, easily the most impactful player per that stat of the night.
Coach Hardy would give Kessler major credit during post-game conversations:
Jordan Clarkson led the bench unit with 18 points and went 3/5 from beyond the arc. The issue was the 18 total shot attempts as JC struggled to score inside against OKC’s length.
Simone Fontecchio had 12 on 9 shots, suffering from the same fate in terms of shooting.
Backcourt members, Kris Dunn and Keyonte George failed to impact the game from a scoring perspective as Dunn had a goose egg and George had three points on 5 shots.
Dunn had six assists, but 4 fouls in 13 minutes.
George, with his shot not falling, would record two assists, but turn it over twice. In just under 14 minutes, George played his third least number of minutes in his 37 games as a pro.
Ochai Agbaji would outscore both Dunn and George with 4 points making 1 field goal in 1 try while having two steals and two turnovers.
Kelly Olynyk had a 7-point night on 7 tries with 4 assists.
Outside of Kessler, it was one of Utah’s worse games from the bench in quite a while.
The bench will bounce back, what’s the highlight?
If you want a visual example of Sexton’s intensity. Here ya are. Frontrunner for Jazz slam of the season:
Many fans have been imaging a potential Thunder-Jazz playoff showdown based on how intense and fun last night’s contest was. This stat may make you think a bit differently.
When does our new streak begin?
That’s the mindset to have.
Utah’s new mettle will be tested as their next 6 games come on the road. The Jazz have remedied their early road struggles, but the task still looms large.
First up is meeting #1 with the Houston Rockets.
After a sturdy showing to start the season, the Rockets have begun to descend going 4-6 in their last ten and having lost three straight.
Houston does pose a different threat in the Toyota Center however with a 15-6 home record.
With a game and a half separating the Rockets and Jazz in the standings this game carries some weight as Utah looks to bounce back.