Thunder Make Jazz Sing The Blues
By Randy Renner
So this is what it's like to win a game.
Streamers fell from the rafters at Chesapeake Energy Arena, everyone cheered and smiled and felt good.
It's been too long.
The Thunder played their best offensive game and still were pretty solid on the defensive end, Jeremy Lamb emerged from witness protection to score 21 points on 7-for8 shooting overall and 3-for-3 from deep and the Thunder beat the Jazz 97-82.
"We've been close so many times so it really feels good to win," said head coach Scott Brooks. "We have a lot of things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and I'm thankful we've stuck together through this."
The win snaps a six game losing streak, the longest for Oklahoma City since the 2008-09 season, the Thunder's first in OKC after moving from Seattle.
The bench played a pivotal role, leading a 16-4 charge to close out the first quarter after Utah had jumped out to a 25-15 lead.
Overall the Thunder bench outscored Utah's second group by a stunning 44-3 margin.
The Thunder ended up with three players scoring at least 20 points. Reggie Jackson led the way with 22 on 10-for-18 shooting, while also handing out eight assists. Lamb had those 21 points plus four rebounds and a couple of assists and Serge Ibaka had 20 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
Anthony Morrow also had a hot night, scoring 12 points all on threes.
The Thunder out rebounded Utah 45-38 and also managed to get the fast break going, scoring 15 points in transition and going 6-for-6 in those opportunities.
It was a great way to head into the Thanksgiving holiday and look ahead to the visit from teammate Derek Fisher and his New York Knicks on Friday.
There also still remains a possibility (although I think a very slim one) that Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook could return to play.
Both men have continued to increase their workloads in practice but neither has been medicinally cleared yet.
That will be the big story on Friday, one way or the other.
Just after Wednesday's win over Utah the Thunder released one of their point guards but not the one most expected. Sebastian Telfair was cut loose and Ish Smith, who'd been signed through the hardship rule will remain on the roster.
Smith's second 10-day contract was due to expire Thanksgiving Day and with Russell Westbrook's return coming soon, someone had to go. Everyone assumed it would be Smith, but the Thunder have liked him for a while and were interested in him over the summer but he hooked up with the Rockets.
Houston released him at the end of training camp and so he was available when the Thunder had to go shopping for an emergency point guard.
Smith has played in six games, averaging 2.2 points and 0.8 assists. Telfair, whom the Thunder signed as a free agent over the summer, appeared in all 16 games this season, averaging 8.4 points and 2.8 assists.
The Thunder roster is now back to the regular league maximum, 15 players.