The Jazz used a dominant performance from its big men to run past the Thunder 109-94 in Salt Lake City Tuesday night.
The first half was a two-man show for Oklahoma City with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant sharing the scoring responsibilities, but poor defense and sloppy play aided Utah's effort.
OKC (39-13) committed 14 turnovers in the first half while allowing Utah to grab 11 offensive rebounds. The Jazz' (29-24) post tandem of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap gave the Thunder fits, combining to score 25 points in the first half while forward DeMarre Carroll chipped in 10 off the Jazz bench. Durant and Westbrook combined for 32 points on 12-17 shooting as OKC trailed 58-52 at the break.
The Thunder's defensive struggles continued in the second half as Jefferson and Millsap combined for 12 more points in the third quarter. Jamaal Tinsley added two 3-balls in the quarter as the Jazz built a 13-point lead, but the Thunder used a late 12-4 run to get back in it. Durant scored 10 in that stretch as OKC cut the Jazz' lead to seven heading into the game's final stanza.
But this wasn't the Thunder's night. Alec Burks opened the fourth with back to back buckets for Utah, which Al Jefferson followed with a 19-foot jumper to open the Jazz lead back up to double digits at 92-79. The beatdown continued as Utah began the fourth on a 16-4 run to open up the 102-83 lead and cruised to an easy win.
Durant did his best, leading OKC with 33 points, six rebounds and five assists while Westbrook finished with 22 points but committed seven turnovers. Oklahoma City turned it over 20 times as a team while losing the rebounding battle 38-26.
Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins played a combined 62 minutes and grabbed a total of four rebounds. Ibaka did chip in 10 points and seven blocks, but Perkins' four turnovers significantly outweighed his one rebound.
Al Jefferson finished with 23 points and seven rebounds while Millsap scored 18 points to go with his 10 boards and six assists. Carroll and Burks finished with 13 points each while Derrick Favors added 15 in the Jazz' winning effort.
The loss drops OKC to 4-4 this season while wearing its alternate navy uniforms. The Thunder will have to bounce back quickly as the champs come to town Thursday night. OKC hosts Miami in the final game before the All-Star break at 7:00 p.m.