Posted April 08, 2013 on
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The Oklahoma City Thunder are trying to close the gap in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference.
There's much more at stake for the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz look to continue their surge and build on their slim lead for the West's final playoff spot Tuesday night when they face the Thunder in what could be a first-round playoff preview.
Oklahoma City (56-21) leads the Northwest Division by three games over Denver with five games left in the regular season, so - barring a collapse - the Thunder should emerge with a third straight division title.
They're probably much more concerned with entering the playoffs with home-court advantage as the West's top seed, and they trail San Antonio by one game in that race after falling 125-120 to New York on Sunday.
"We're good. We've got five more games to go," said forward Kevin Durant, who had 27 points and seven assists. "What's the need to panic for? We're good."
The Jazz (41-37) aren't nearly that comfortable.
With four contests left, Utah leads the Los Angeles Lakers by one-half game in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Despite the Lakers having a game in hand, the Jazz hold the tiebreaker by winning the season series.
"Four games left. We've got to have them," center Al Jefferson said.
The Jazz have gained the advantage in the playoff chase by winning seven of eight while averaging 103.9 points and shooting 50.3 percent from the floor - 40.5 from 3-point range. That's a dramatic improvement after enduring a 3-12 stretch that included shooting 43.7 percent - 34.7 from beyond the arc.
Utah's recent surge continued with Sunday's 97-90 win at Golden State, spoiling the Warriors' chances of clinching a playoff berth.
"I can't say enough about this group of guys," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "This was all about them and them wanting it, and the way they came out. Although we made some mistakes in the game, everybody laid everything they had in them out there on the floor."
Mo Williams connected on 11 of 19 from the floor to finish with 25 points after totaling 12 on 5-of-20 shooting over the previous two games.
The guard has reached 20 points in six of the past 18 games, averaging 12.4 over that stretch after missing 32 with a sprained right thumb.
Williams was held to five points in a 110-87 loss at Oklahoma City on March 13. He sat out the most recent home meeting Feb. 12, when Jefferson scored 23 in a 109-94 victory.
Oklahoma City has won seven of the past nine games with the Jazz despite Durant averaging 23.6 points.
He had 33 points at Salt Lake City in February and may have some motivation for a similar performance since he's locked in a tight race for the NBA scoring title with the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony. Durant is averaging 28.35 points while Anthony is at 28.44.
Russell Westbrook is averaging 27.8 points, 9.5 boards and 8.5 assists over the past four contests. He fell just shy of his second triple-double of that stretch Sunday, getting 37 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
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Video: Absolutely Redonkulous..
The Jazz were not the ones expecting to be overpowered and outplayed by a struggling Thunder team. While there are still plenty of question marks for Oklahoma City, there was no doubt whether who won and who lost Tuesday night.
Here's our report card of last night's contest:
A - Thunder's physicality
Having tough guys on a team is one thing. However, tough...
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Russell Westbrook scored 25 points, Kevin Durant added 21 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Utah Jazz 90-80 on Tuesday night.
The Thunder (57-21) continued their push to claim the top overall seed in the Western Conference, while the Jazz lost some momentum in their battle with the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot.
Utah (41-38) entered with...
The Utah Jazz received a near fatal blow in their playoff chances Tuesday night when the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated them 90-80, but the evisceration continued at the hands of Russell Westbrook. Westbrook blows past Utah’s defensive and kills Al Jefferson with this sultry, explosive dunk over his head. Death By Westbrook. The post Russell Westbrook’s Explosive Dunk Over...
One of the things that I love about the NBA is that anyone can enjoy the game from a young kid to a 97-year-old man.Check out this mini featurette on Oklahoma City Thunder fan Leonard Abrahams who at the ripe old age of 97-years-old attended his first NBA game:
Game Time: 8:00 PM CT
Television/Radio: FS Oklahoma/WWLS 98.1 FM
Line: Oklahoma City -3.5
Oklahoma City Thunder
Points Per Game...
Jazz center Enes Kanter will undergo a surgical repair on his injured left shoulder.
The roller coaster continued for the Utah Jazz. One minute they're in, the next they're out.
But even after Tuesday's 90-80 loss to Oklahoma City, players weren't about to concede the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference to the Los Angeles Lakers.
''We still got a chance,'' point guard Mo Williams said. ''I'm not sitting...
Mo Williams scored 25 points, Al Jefferson added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the Utah Jazz regained the Western Conference's final playoff position by holding off the Golden State Warriors 97-90 on Sunday night.
Williams made a 3-pointer with 13.4 seconds remaining to put Utah ahead by six and spoil Golden State's shot to clinch a playoff berth in front of a sellout crowd...
Some Utah Jazz players watched the Lakers-Clippers game on a
big-screen television inside the locker room while they prepared to
face the Golden State Warriors. Others followed the contest on
cellphones while riding on the late bus to the arena. Coach Tyrone
Corbin just checked the final score when the Lakers lost.
Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant spent his basketball off day at the San Francisco Giants' ballpark on a spectacular Bay Area afternoon, signing autographs and meeting players.
He insists he can learn from watching the best in another sport.
Durant, in town to face the playoff-bound Golden State Warriors on Thursday was especially eager to watch reigning NL MVP and batting...
Carmelo Anthony has finally done something Patrick Ewing and Bernard King never did.
No, not lead the Knicks to an NBA championship, although he will get a chance this year. Anthony topped the list of the NBA’s best-selling jerseys, the league announced Tuesday, becoming the first Knick to do so.
Granted, the NBA has only been keeping track of such sales since 2001, but it is safe...