The Thunder showed hardly any signs of rust after the 145-day layoff — blitzing the Utah Jazz from the opening tip and coming away with a 110-94 victory on Saturday afternoon in Orlando. The Thunder scored 66 points on 65% shooting in the first half, using a 7-of-14 clip from long range to take a 66-42 lead into the halftime break. The Jazz shot 41% from the floor and just 3-of-15 from long range in the first two quarters to find themselves in a 24-point hole after 24 minutes.
Utah’s struggles continued after halftime — even as the Thunder offense cooled down. They trimmed OKC’s lead to 18 points at about the midway point of the fourth quarter, but that quickly became a 21-point deficit on the next trip down when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander cashed a three-ball with 5:44 to play that squashed any hope of a comeback. Quinn Snyder was forced to call a timeout immediately thereafter and rolled with his reserves the rest of the way.
SGA led the Thunder in scoring with 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting — followed by Chris Paul with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and a team-high +27. It was a complete victory in just about every way for Billy Donovan’s squad, as they led by as many as 29 and never trailed throughout.
SGA: 19 pts, 6 ast, 3 stl, 6/12 FG, +13
CP3: 18 pts, 7 reb, 7 ast, 7/11 FG, +27
Adams: 16 pts, 11 reb, 2 blk, 7/10 FG, +15
Gallinari: 15 pts, 5/10 FG, 2/6 3P, +14
Schroder: 13 pts, 5 TO, 5/8 FG, -4
Bazley: 10 pts, 7 reb, 2/3 3P, +2
Diallo: 9 pts, 2/2 3P, +1
Overwhelming Early Offense
The Thunder won this game going away due in large part to their ability to score the basketball early — building that 24-point first half lead on a blistering 7-of-14 from long range and 66% shooting as a team. There wasn’t much the Jazz could do about any of it.
All in all, OKC enjoyed 53% shooting on the afternoon — and a 10-of-26 clip from long range. The second half was obviously less successful on that end (42% FG, 25% 3P) but it didn’t really matter because the game was already in-hand.
Here’s a look at the shooting zones for both teams for the afternoon:
Defensive Intensity Throughout
The Thunder offense could afford to cool off after halftime because the defense was on point all day — holding the Jazz to just 39% shooting and 8-of-31 (26%) from three. Lu Dort was an absolute menace on Donovan Mitchell, holding the All-Star guard to 13 points on 5-of-15 from the floor.
Dort was phenomenal on that end — stepping up to the challenge and smothering the Jazz attack. I mean, check out the fluidity of his switches on this second-half defensive possession:
The Thunder’s defensive effort was solid for 48 minutes and it resulted in a win.
The Student & The Teacher
Though SGA led the team in scoring with 19 points, the day belonged to the Point God — as CP3 diced the Utah defense en route to 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and a ridiculous +27 in 27 minutes of action. 15 of those points came in a dominant first half when the Thunder were establishing the insurmountable lead.
That’s not to say SGA wasn’t good in his own right — going for 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting. He added three assists, solid defense, and another stepback three to tease us with glimpses of what’s to come.
Oh, and more magic near the rim. SGA is good at this stuff:
First Half Dre: Andre Roberson checked-in for 5 minutes in the first half — picking up a block on defense as the Thunder were +9 in that brief stretch with him on the floor. He did not log any action in the second half.
Big Kiwi: Steven Adams got the best of Rudy Gobert in their showdown in the paint, dropping 16 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals — while holding Gobert to a quiet 10-points on the afternoon. He even flexed his passing for one of those two assists, finding a cutting Dort for a backdoor lob:
Hami & Danilo: Diallo looks to be Billy’s preferred first wing off the bench and he responded with 9 points and a 2-of-2 effort from long range. Gallinari looked much better than he did in scrimmage play, energizing the Thunder offense early on his way to 15 points for the game.
Thunder Take a Knee: As expected, the full Thunder roster and coaching staff took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem. Somewhere, State Representative Sean Roberts is very upset. May that unhappiness last forever, Sean.