Preview 23 of 82: Jazz @ Thunder
Time: 7:00 PM CT
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
The Oklahoma City Thunder has won two consecutive games, raising the overall record to 10-12 in the 2017-18 season. It’s been far from pretty — even in the recent victories — but there is some momentum behind the team and signs of life in a sputtering offense. Tonight the Thunder gets a Northwest Division showdown with the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz has won six straight and carries a record of 13-11 into tonight’s game in Oklahoma City. Rookie phenom Donovan Mitchell has buoyed the team recently, averaging 21.7 points during the win streak. The roster is also getting healthier, as Rudy Gobert returned last night after missing 11 games with a knee injury. Utah has the NBA’s third-best defense — allowing just 98.7 points per game — and will be a test for an inconsistent Thunder attack.
- Dante Exum: Out — Shoulder
- Joe Johnson: Out — Wrist
- Rodney Hood: Out — Ankle
Jazz Starters: Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert
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10/21: UTAH 96, OKC 87 [BOX SCORE]
Last Time Out. The Jazz defeated OKC 96-87 on October 21 — the second game of the Thunder season. It was a sloppy contest that wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate, as Utah had five men in double-figures and gave the world its first glimpse at some of the new-look Thunder’s offensive issues. Russell Westbrook contributed just six points on 2/11 shooting, and will need to be much better tonight.
Utah’s Winning Streak. Utah has defeated Chicago, Milwaukee, LA Clippers, Denver, New Orleans and Washington during the current six game win streak. The Jazz is on the second night of a back-to-back tonight, defeating the Wizards by a score of 116-69 last night in Salt Lake City.
Rudy Gobert’s Return. Rudy Gobert returned to action last night after missing 11 games with a knee injury. He logged 21 minutes of action, finishing with a line of 4 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks. He’s averaging 13.2 points and 10.5 rebounds in 13 games this season — but will figure to be on some form of minutes restriction tonight.
Feeding Steven Adams. Steven Adams finished with 9 points and 5 rebounds in the first match-up with Utah, but is coming into tonight riding a two game hot streak. He’s averaging 23 points and 8 rebounds over the last two, shooting 79 percent from the field over the same span. Rudy Gobert’s return makes his offensive life more difficult, but the Thunder should again work to get him going early.
Donovan Mitchell. Donovan Mitchell has been other-worldly for the Jazz lately — essentially carrying Utah while Gobert was sidelined with his injury. The rookie is averaging 21.7 points and 3.2 rebounds during the current six game winning streak. Even more impressive, he’s shot 49 percent from the field and 48 percent from deep (on nearly 8 attempts per game) in the process. Expect him to get the Andre Roberson treatment tonight in OKC.
Bounce Back. Paul George is coming off a 2/17 shooting performance in the Thunder’s win over San Antonio, and Carmelo Anthony has scored nine points in each of the last two games. Both men scored 20+ in the Thunder’s first game against Utah, and will need to replicate that success tonight against one of the better defenses in the NBA.
Steven Adams on if he’s excited Rudy Gobert is back for the Jazz. Via Fred Katz.