A night after an intense comeback win over the Houston Rockets, Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz stumbled on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
G-Time finished the contest with six points, two rebounds and five assists in the 113-91 defeat and the loss dropped the Jazz back into a tie with the Rockets for eighth place in the conference.
After expending so much energy the previous night in an emotional 18-point comeback win, H20 admitted that he and his teammates were a little drained going into Thursday’s showdown against an OKC team that has been Utah’s kryptonite this season. The fatigue hurt, as did the team’s sloppy play. Utah turned it over 18 times and OKC capitalized in a big way, turning the miscues into 32 easy points.
“I think it was tough for us to play on a back-to-back against a good team like that,” Hayward said. “Still, we turned the ball over too much. We talked before the game about not turning the ball over and we came out and did just that. They turned those turnovers into easy points. And because of that, they ran away with it.”
Hayward put the Jazz on the board in the first quarter after he got to the line and converted on both attempts to tie the game at two. After the Thunder got out to a 10-point lead, H20 helped the Jazz go on an 11-4 to close out the quarter.
After a Trevor Booker triple, G-Time knocked down his first field goal on a driving bank-shot to make it a 22-17 game at the 2:59 mark. Hayward then put his passing skills on display as he assisted on the next three baskets for Utah.
He made a nice feed to Shelvin Mack, who finished with a layup. On the ensuing possession, Hayward connected with Trey Lyles who knocked down a pullup jumper to make it a 24-21 game. Gordon then came down with a defensive rebound and found Derrick Favors on the other end for the layup to bring the Jazz within one with 1:19 to go in the first.
The second quarter was a struggle for Hayward and the Jazz, as they were outscored 24-16 before the half. Gordon was held without a field goal in the frame and Utah found itself in a 50-39 hole after two.
“They’re a good team first and foremost and then we turned the ball over too much which is something I’ve talked about before,” Gordon said. “That’s exactly what we did and they ran away with it.”
Things didn’t get any easier in the third and the Thunder came out of the half and exploited a tired Jazz squad. OKC went on a 12-0 run to start the quarter and put the game out of reach. The run put Hayward and his teammates down by 23 points, and it was playing catchup from there on out.
Hayward’s running slam with 6:51 to go in the third cut the deficit to 19, and back-to-back assists from G-Time to Mack and Rodney Hood made it a 67-50 game. Utah entered the fourth down 81-60 and that’s about as close as they came for the remainder of the contest.
“This would’ve been a tough game no matter what,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “That’s just a very, very good team over there. It would’ve been tough to beat this team even if we were fresh. We were depleted early with foul trouble. That hurt us. We needed to make some shots out there tonight and we weren’t able to do that. We have to keep playing well, and get ready for Minnesota.”
H20 and the Jazz (35-37) will wrap up their five-game road trip this weekend when they travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves (23-48).
After losing to the T-Wolves in late December, Utah bounded back with a 103-90 win to even the season series on Jan. 29. With the Jazz, Rockets and Dallas Mavericks all separated by a half game or less, Hayward and the Jazz will look to take care of business and end the road trip on a high-note.
The game will tip off on Saturday at 6 p.m. EST from Target Center and will be aired on ROOT.
WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS – 3/25
1. y – Golden State Warriors (64-7)
2. y – San Antonio Spurs (60-11) 4 GB
3. y – Oklahoma City Thunder (50-22) 14.5 GB
4. Los Angeles Clippers (44-27) 20 GB
5. Memphis Grizzlies (41-31) 23.5 GB
6. Portland Trail Blazers (37-36) 28 GB
7. Dallas Mavericks (35-36) 29 GB
8. Houston Rockets (35-37) 29.5 GB
9. Utah Jazz (35-37) 29.5 GB
y – Clinched division