Oklahoma City gets physical in an ugly, 90-80 win over the Utah Jazz
Every win matters in April. Oklahoma City needed to show up against the Jazz, and they earned themselves another night in contention for the top seed.
It figured to be a physical match-up between the two division rivals. However, I'm not sure many saw the Thunder being the more physical team.
Oklahoma City took away Utah's strength in the post, and forced them to take jump shots. It truly was the type of defensive performance you want out of your team this late in the season.
Yes, there's plenty to be happy about. Thabo Sefolosha was 4-8 from the perimeter, finishing with 12 points. Kevin Durant was one assist away from a triple-double.
The guys that deserve a lot of praise tonight, though, are Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook.
Durant played a superb game, especially after an early scare. KD took a hard fall and appeared to be in pain, but the ex-Longhorn fought through it and put up a nice stat line.
However, give credit to Russell Westbrook for taking advantage of a huge mismatch. Utah's Mo Williams is a solid point guard, and can be a threat on the offensive end. Put him on Westbrook, though, and the results are not going to be fun for Utah fans.
Westbrook is too strong and too fast for Williams; putting on a show for the Jazz home crowd.
The Jazz front court is supposed to be one of the best in the league, but without Enes Kanter and Kevin Durant spreading the floor with Paul Millsap, Westbrook was able to attack the Jazz's interior and pick up the easy points in the paint.
Serge Ibaka made a living in the paint as well. Ibaka is a tough, tough player, but he was just on it tonight.
Ibaka physically dominated the Jazz, picking up second chance opportunities, blocking shots, and helping the Thunder win the battle on the glass.
This Thunder team enjoyed a nice team effort, but it should not bode well for fans how ugly this game was at times. It was not completely unwatchable, but some sloppy play kept the Jazz in this ball game for most of the night. Oklahoma City went on plenty of runs, but the Jazz kept fighting until the buzzer.
Managing to win the turnover battle, OKC was too much for Utah. Their playoff hopes are not shot, but the Jazz have to be kicking themselves for allowing the Thunder to step in to EnergySolutions Arena and push them around.
With the win, Oklahoma City trails the Spurs by half-a-game for the top seed in the West. The Spurs are in Denver tomorrow, while the Thunder travel to the Bay Area for a Thursday night match-up with the Golden State Warriors.
The regular season finish line is very much in sight, but the Thunder are nowhere near their peak and they need to build off this win to pick up some steam down the stretch.