Thunder Holds Off Jazz For Second Consecutive Win
OKLAHOMA CITY - Russell Westbrook notched his 32nd triple-double of the season as the Thunder held off the Jazz, 112-104 on Saturday afternoon inside of Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Westbrook finished with 33 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists as the Thunder is now 3-1 against Utah this season and 26-6 when Westbrook registers a triple-double.
With Westbrook assisting on OKC’s first five field goals of the game, the Thunder snagged the momentum early in the first quarter and held onto it for most of the contest. After holding a six-point lead after one frame, the Thunder closed the first half on a 14-6 run and led by 14 thanks to the facilitating of Westbrook.
Utah’s George Hill caught fire to open the third to bring the Jazz within 11 points, but OKC was ready to pull away.
Victor Oladipo drained a floater, then Westbrook either scored or assisted on the next 10 OKC points as the Thunder used a 12-0 run to extended its lead to 76-53 midway through the third.
With the game slipping away, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder opted to bench his starters and the move nearly paid off. Led by Dante Exum and Alec Burks, Utah’s bench unit kept fighting and clawed within six points with 1:17 remaining, but OKC’s MVP candidate squashed any chance of a Jazz comeback. Westbrook ultimately scored 16 of OKC’s final 17 points as the Thunder weathered the storm down the stretch.
Oladipo looked great in his third game back after dealing with back spasms, finishing with 22 points while Enes Kanter added 16 points and six rebounds off the bench. Taj Gibson scored 15 points in his second game in the starting lineup before exiting the game in the third quarter with a sore left hip.
Exum led the Jazz with a career-high 22 points while Burks added 21. Utah's all-star guard, Gordon Hayward, played only three minutes in the second half and finished with nine points. It’s also worth noting that Utah was without both Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors.
The Thunder will be back in action on Tuesday in Brooklyn when OKC attempts to end its road woes against the Nets.