Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

April 10, 2013

Thunder beats Utah, keeps pace with Spurs

SALT LAKE CITY — 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 here saying it's over. We got three games left. We've got to go get them."

Utah (41-38) entered with a half-game lead and the tiebreaker over the Lakers, but is now in ninth again with the loss to the Thunder and the Lakers' win over New Orleans.

The Thunder, meanwhile, continued their push to claim the top overall seed in the Western Conference, with Russell Westbrook scoring 25 points and Kevin Durant adding 21 to fuel Tuesday's victory.

At 57-21, Oklahoma City has as many wins as the San Antonio Spurs (57-20).

Going into Salt Lake City, the Thunder insisted they were more concerned with bouncing back from a tough home loss Sunday to the New York Knicks.

"That is one of the strengths of our team; we always seem to figure out a way to get better after a loss," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

He credited Westbrook with setting the tone.

"He doesn't get enough credit for his aggressive play," Brooks said. "He helps us win games, a lot of games and the way he plays, he attacks, he puts so much pressure on the defense, he opens up shots for Thabo (Sefolosha), opens up shots for Serge (Ibaka), and KD did a great job of spreading out his game tonight. He could have easily taken more shots tonight if he wanted to, but he was making the right plays."

Durant added 12 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and a block for the Thunder.

Al Jefferson's three-point play pulled Utah within 84-78 with 55 seconds left and Paul Millsap's dunk made it a four-point game, but Durant hit two free throws and Westbrook stole the inbound pass to seal it for the Thunder.

Ibaka helped Oklahoma City build a big lead with 10 points, four rebounds and three blocks in the third quarter. In four games this season he had 20 blocks against the Jazz.

"The stats say we are the second-best defensive team in the league and I believe we are," Brooks said. "We lock in on that end of the floor but you have to be able to score also. We always have this little thing that we talk about: Let our defense score points for us, and it did tonight."

Williams finished with 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting Tuesday to lead the Jazz, who had won two straight and seven of eight but were done in by poor shooting and sloppy play. Utah committed 17 turnovers and made just 31 of 79 shots (39.2 percent), including 7 of 25 from 3-point range.

"They're a unique team," Jazz guard Randy Foye said. "They're really long 1 to 5. Sometimes there are passes you can slip in there against other teams. Not against them. Give them credit."

The Thunder weren't much better with 11 turnovers and 39.5 percent shooting, but they made 9 of 21 from 3-point range, including 4 of 8 by Sefolosha.

Oklahoma City led by as many as 14 after Sefolosha hit a 3-pointer with 8:42 left in the third.

The Jazz fought back behind Derrick Favors. He blocked Kendrick Perkins' shot at the rim then converted a three-point play at the other end to get the Jazz within 60-53.

Each time Oklahoma City had an answer.

"We could never get over the hump," Foye said.

Westbrook's 3-pointer bumped the Thunder lead back to 10 points, 65-55.

The Thunder led 26-19 after one as Utah shot just 38.1 percent and committed six turnovers. Westbrook had an eight-point quarter, including a nasty dunk where he blew by Williams and left Jefferson watching helplessly.

The Jazz climbed within 26-24 in the second quarter on a 3-pointer by DeMarre Carroll and Millsap's fast-break layup.

Utah's second unit, led by 6-10 Favors, stepped up the intensity in the second quarter. Favors and Hasheem Thabeet bumped back and forth and Favors had three blocks in 13 minutes, including one on Durant with 4:54 left in the second quarter.

Durant was undeterred. He came right back with a 3-pointer for a 39-28 Thunder lead — Oklahoma City's largest in the first half.

Brooks was asked about a statistic indicating it's been nine years since a player has won a title the same year as logging 3,000 minutes. Durant has now played 3,018 minutes, including 37 Tuesday.

"He's going to play and he's going to play a lot of minutes," Brooks said. "It hasn't affected us one bit. Obviously when you're 24 and have the energy he has, and the ability to play at the level he has, minutes is really not a factor. We've never gone into a playoff series and said, 'Man he's tired. He's beat up. We're not going to be able to get anything out of him.'"

Text Only
Sports
  • Hooper.jpg Sparking the flame

    Sequoyah High School’s Justin Hooper looking to lead this year

    Last season was Justin’s last chance to play alongside Cody at Sequoyah High School.
    Justin had to battle to win the Indians starting tailback. The coaching staff did not know who was going to be the Indians starting running back coming into fall practice.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NSU-fishing-team.jpg NSU teams compete in fishing tournament

    Three teams from Northeastern State University’s Bass Fishing Team competed in the Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Tournament on Grand Lake in Grove on Saturday, June 21.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnson, East win easily at All-State

    Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.

    July 29, 2014

  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • BobBowlsby.jpg Media Week: Change is coming

    Changes are coming to college athletics.
    That was the theme of the state of the conference speech by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the first day of Big 12 Football Media Days.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peterson.jpg Cowboy quandary: OSU defense trying to replace seven starters

    A year after the best defensive team in the Mike Gundy era, the questions now surround how those few returning starters and second-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer can maintain that high level of efficiency.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Stocks