OKLAHOMA CITY -- Facing their second matchup of the season with the Oklahoma Thunder, the Jazz will try to hold down their No. 8 spot in the Western Conference with a win on the road Thursday night.
When the Jazz welcomed the Thunder to Salt Lake City Nov. 24, Utah couldn't dig themselves out of the 16-point deficit they had accumulated by the start of the fourth quarter. The game was close throughout the first half, but in the third quarter, Kevin Durrant and company opened up on the Jazz and took advantage of wide open jump shots and tightened up their defense. Durrant had 28 points, five rebounds and eight assists to lead the Thunder to their win over the Jazz in Energy Solutions Arena.
Carlos Boozer put up 26 points and seven rebounds for the Jazz, but Deron Williams was held to just 10 points and gave up seven turnovers on the night.KSL takes a look back and ahead as we prep for the game against the Thunder.
What did we learn about the Jazz against the Minnesota Timberwolves?
- After handing the Timberwolves two of their seven wins so far this season, the Jazz pulled it together Wednesday night in Minnesota to claim their first season win over the Timberwolves 107-103. Down just one at the half, Utah found momentum in the third quarter and began to pull away from Minnesota. It wasn't a pretty win, but they didn't come away empty handed and they got the job done on the road.
- In the fourth quarter, the Jazz moved up by 17 on Minnesota, but nearly gave away their entire lead late in the game with several sloppy turnovers and defensive breakdowns as the Timberwolves cut the deficit to three. Against a tougher Thunder team that sits just one spot behind the Jazz in the Western Conference, Utah won't be able to afford such mistakes and leave Oklahoma City victorious.
What can the Jazz expect from the Thunder?
- Oklahoma City (17-14) is almost even when it comes to playing at home or on the road. However, while their record at home (8-7) isn't great, Utah's record on the road (6-9) is worse. Chances are, the Thunder would be more than happy to keep Utah's slump alive and dish them one more loss to finish out the year, bumping their own winning streak to five games.
- Contrary to what happened in Wednesday's game against Minnesota, the third quarter of the teams' last meeting was where it all slipped away from Utah. It was Oklahoma City that found their rhythm after halftime, tallying a 16-point lead before the end of the third quarter while Utah consistently turned over the ball. The Jazz wouldn't come within less than eight throughout the rest of the game. Utah has got to put four solid quarters together to win tonight, and they've got to minimize turnovers. They can let Durrant go for another 28 points, but combining that with their own 24 turnovers like they did in November is a lethal combination.
- The Jazz were able to scrape out the win in Minnesota but they will have to shoot better than 35 percent in the first half of tonight's game if they want a chance to claim the win in the end against the Thunder. Oklahoma City averages three points lower than Utah's 48.6 season field goal percentage, but they've proven to know how to take advantage of Jazz breakdowns.
Probable Jazz starting lineup
- C - Mehmet Okur, 6-11, 273 lbs., Turkey
- PF - Carlos Boozer, 6-9, 260 lbs., Duke
- SF - Ronnie Brewer, 6-7, 236 lbs., Arkansas
- SG - C.J. Miles, 6-6, 227 lbs., Skyline HS (TX)
- PG - Deron Williams, 6-3, 207 lbs., Illinois
Probable Thunder starting lineup
- C - Nenad Krstic, 7-0, 240 lbs., Serbia
- PF - Jeff Green, 6-9, 235 lbs., Georgetown
- SF - Kevin Durrant, 6-9, 230 lbs., Texas
- SG - Thabo Sefolosha, 6-7, 215 lbs., Switzerland
- PG - Russell Westbrook, 6-3, 187 lbs., UCLA
Kevin Durrant, 28.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg / Russell Westbrook, 17.2 ppg, 7.0 apg
Jazz Injury Updates
- Kyle Korver - (knee) OUT
Thunder Injury Updates
- Matt Harpring - (knee) OUT
- Kevin Ollie - (knee) OUT
- Kyle Weaver - (shoulder) OUT
With their last game of 2009 upon them, Utah has a chance to string two games together on the road and build some momentum as they head into the new year. If they're able to limit their turnovers and out-rebound the Thunder - the basics they focus on every game - there's no overwhelming reason why they shouldn't be able to pull off the win.
After Thursday's game, the Jazz will back at home for three straight games. Denver, currently 20-12, will be the first to visit Salt Lake City Jan. 2.