3 min read

Preseason Thoughts: Thunder 88, Jazz 82


It was a pretty uneventful night at The Peake against the Utah Jazz, so the facts are this:

  • The Thunder won 82–82
  • Kevin Durant played only a half, and didn’t shoot well hitting just 2-10 and scoring five points
  • Reggie Jackson was outstanding, scoring 18 points on 7-10 shooting (3-3 from 3) with six assists and three rebounds with no turnovers
  • Steven Adams started and was really good, scoring six points with 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 24 minutes
  • Jeremy Lamb was OK in 25 minutes scoring 12 on 3-9 shooting with three rebounds
  • Thabo somehow took 10 free throws
  • The Jazz are not likely to be a very good team this season

Genuinely, that’s about all there was here. The Thunder’s defense played pretty well, and Jackson was stellar bouncing back from a rugged game against the Pelicans. Jackson has clearly been working his mid-range and perimeter game this offseason and wasn’t shy about them. His ability to finish inside is his bread and butter but with a jumper, he turns into some kind of a dynamic offensive player.

Jackson said he made it an offseason focus to improve from the perimeter, but still made sure to say his game is attacking and getting to the basket.

“I’m always trying to get to the basket,” he said. “I think I can cause havoc in the paint. But if you don’t take any outside shots, people are going to start sagging off. So it’s something I worked on I guess, to make people and defenses respect me, but I’m all about getting to the basket and making plays for teammates and making plays for myself.

“I feel more confident, I feel more relaxed,” Jackson said of his jumpshooting. “I just feel I’m in a better position to do so. I understand that you have to take some outside shots and no matter what people say around you that you just have to be confident in your game.”

But that’s about it. Some notes and quotes:

  • Scott Brooks started Jackson, Andre Roberson, Durant, Ibaka and Adams. Roberson fouled out after 23 minutes, with 1:06 left in the third quarter with just two points and three rebounds. He’s gained a reputation for his activity, but he seemed to be trying a little bit too hard to be everywhere and was too aggressive on the ball.
  • Again, Adams was sound and put together a quality line while also defending Enes Kanter extremely well. I was especially curious to see how Adams did battling a quality big inside without fouling, and he made it through his 24 minutes with only three fouls.
  • Jackson on Adams: “I didn’t know he was this good. I knew he was good, but I didn’t know he was this good.”
  • In the first half, Adams and KD ran a sweet pick-and-roll with Durant hitting Adams on the roll with a slick overhead pass that led to a pure baby hook finish. I was so excited I poured a Diet Coke all over my face to cool off.
  • Just so it’s noted: KD wasn’t hurt or anything, he just rested the second half because preseason.
  • Durant busted out his Magic Johnson running skyhook on Richard Jefferson, and even though it didn’t fall, it was the prettiest play all night.
  • Jeremy Lamb had a decent game and while 3-9 is again poor shooting, the positive is that he attacked the basket well and found the free throw line finally. Coming in, he’d only attempted five total in the four previous games. He got six tonight.
  • Serge Ibaka looks a lot better to me, particularly on the offensive end. His decisiveness is obviously better and he’s not just a catch-and-shoot robot. He’s actually processing offense a little bit and understanding when and where to be more.
  • Ibaka hit a lefty hookshot after turning baseline in the post. I had to go get another Diet Coke.
  • Jackson was asked if he learned anything tonight about a matchup the Thunder might be able to exploit in the opener against the Jazz. His answer: “Kevin Durant.”
  • Via Anthony Slater: “Steven Adams has 41 rebounds in 108 preseason minutes. That’s 13.6 rebs per 36 minutes.”
  • I want to start calling Steven Adams “Steve Adams.” Because he doesn’t look like a Steve at all.
  • Collison and Adams ran a nice little high-low with Adams muscling out position and drawing a foul. Then he hit both free throws.
  • Before every game in the locker room, the opponent’s previous game is playing on a number of TV screens, and there’s one big one in the middle next to the whiteboard. Tonight, Steven Adams had his chair pulled right up in front of it and I don’t think the word intently describes how he was watching the Jazz. Most players watch the screens, but I’ve never seen one that actually pulls his chair up right in front of it. After Adams had been there a while, Andre Roberson joined him.
  • Russell Westbrook told Adams pregame to go get him a pair of socks. So Adams got up, went to get them, and somehow only returned with one. Westbrook’s reaction was solid. I’m thinking the Thunder’s equipment manager was playing a nice little joke on the rookie.

Next up: Against the Suns on Tuesday