The Thunder led 25-9 after the first quarter on Wednesday night versus the Utah Jazz — a commanding start that didn’t provide the sense of security it should have. After 30 games of building, blowing, and often losing sizable leads, even the most comfortable of advantages are surprisingly uncomfortable.
But unlike many of the nights that came before it, Wednesday night was different.
The Thunder led wire-to-wire against the Jazz, winning 107-79 going away. Led by Russell Westbrook’s 24 points on 10/13 shooting, Oklahoma City shot 52 percent in a game that ended up never in question. The win also moves the Thunder to 16-15 on the season — the first time the team has been over .500 since October 31.
OKC returns to action on Friday night versus the 7-24 Atlanta Hawks before facing the Jazz again on Sunday.
Russell Westbrook In Command
Russell Westbrook paced the Thunder attack against Utah, finishing with 24 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. He shot 10/13 from the field, didn’t attempt a three-pointer, turned it over just once and was as engaged defensively as he’s been all season. As a bonus, the Thunder lead made it possible for him to sit the entire fourth quarter.
PG13 & Melo Were Better
Paul George and Carmelo Anthony didn’t have stat lines to write home about, but they were much-improved compared to recent performances. Their final numbers:
Anthony: 18 pts, 7 reb, 5/12 FG, +30
George: 18 pts, 4 ast, 2 stl, 5/12 FG, +31
Melo looked much better than his 4-point outing last time out, appearing more confident and fluid in the Thunder offense. He didn’t take an abundance of bad shots and was committed to keeping the ball moving. George struggled to get much going early on, but broke out in a big way with the following dunk over Derrick Favors:
The dunk put the Thunder up 18 and provided the “OK maybe I can relax” moment for fans. Melo was done after the third quarter, while George played a bit to open the fourth with the reserve unit before checking out for good.
It’s incredible how much better the Thunder looks when shots are falling. The defense is and has been elite, but getting some basic run relief goes a long way. Some numbers:
OK3 FG%: 54 percent
Starters FG%: 57 percent
Team FG%: 52 percent
As icing on the cake, the Thunder hit 19/22 free throws (86.4 percent) and life was immediately better.
Rough Night for Utah. The Jazz shot just 35 percent from the field and hit 7/31 attempts from long range. The team was without Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and was outmatched from the opening tip.
Spread Out. Five Thunder players reached double-figures in scoring. Westbrook (24), Melo (18), George (18), Steven Adams (11) and Jerami Grant (11).
- OKC won 42-39 on the glass and 50-30 in paint scoring
- The Thunder had 23 assists to Utah’s 13
- The Thunder defense accumulated 15 steals, 5 blocks and forced 19 turnovers
Jerami Grant hit a putback dunk and again proved he is not human. Via Thunder.
Russell Westbrook on Paul George’s monster dunk. Via Royce Young.