NBA's underdog thunders past Jazz
Oklahoma City » Because there's nothing to do in Oklahoma City, the Jazz had no excuse for not showing up Wednesday night against the Thunder and suffering a 114-93 humiliation at the hands of the NBA's worst team.
Trying to build on their 4-0 homestand, the Jazz instead fell behind by 10 in the first quarter, regrouped to tie the score just before halftime, then reached rock bottom in the second half against the Thunder, who came into Wednesday with a 6-33 record.
"The last thing you want to do is to let teams think that they can beat you," Matt Harpring said. "This team had no right to think that they could beat us, but we gave them that right at the beginning of the game. The whole game they played with confidence."
For all the talk before this season about being a better road team, the Jazz suffered an unforgivable loss at Ford Center. The Thunder came into Wednesday 0-20 against teams with winning records. Make that 1-20 after beating the Jazz.
"It's bad. We stunk. That's all there is to it," Kyle Korver said. "But we're going to play better these next two games."
The Jazz's three-game trip continues with games at Memphis and Dallas this weekend, but Wednesday's loss dropped the Jazz to 7-12 on the road this season and 12 games under .500 (24-36) on the road the last two seasons.
"We just had four good games at home where we have energy, where we're unselfish, where we make plays," Deron Williams said. "We get on the road and just -- I don't know -- we feel like we can't win or what it is, we just don't have that same intensity."
In a city all but distraction free -- Korver said he ordered a cheeseburger and watched an entire season of a television series in his hotel room Tuesday night -- the Jazz were at a loss to explain what happened.
"We don't have a team like that," Harpring said. "There are some teams around the league that when they go on the road, they go out all night. I don't think we have a team like that."
Yet the Jazz also lost to Washington, now an Eastern Conference-worst 7-31, on the road in November. The Thunder opened the season 2-24 and were on pace to challenge the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers (9-73) as the worst team in NBA history.
Playing without Paul Millsap, who missed his second game with a bruised right knee, the Jazz were outrebounded 48-26. The Thunder came into Wednesday averaging 95.1 points a game yet totaled 114 on 54.9 percent shooting.
Mehmet Okur followed his career-high 43-point night against Indiana with nine points on 3 of 12 shooting and four fouls. Ronnie Brewer went 1 of 6 with two points and two turnovers in 21 minutes. Ronnie Price picked up four fouls in 15 minutes as a starter.
The Thunder, coming off recent victories over New York and Chicago, had Jeff Green finish with 23 points, Russell Westbrook with 22, Kevin Durant with 21. Nenad Krstic totaled 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
After falling behind 12-4 early, the Jazz spent the rest of the first half fighting back. Korver hit a three-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer and combined to score 20 points with Harpring in the half. The Jazz tied the score before going into halftime down 50-48.
But they stumbled out of halftime -- Desmond Mason posted up Price for a basket -- and started sliding after Andrei Kirilenko missed two free throws with 7:57 left in the third and Okur fouled going after the rebound.
As the Jazz panicked, Oklahoma City scored nine straight points to take a 68-55 lead, with Durant burying one three-pointer and Green draining another after the Jazz double-teamed Mason in the post and the Thunder rotated the ball.
The Thunder led by as many as 17 in the third quarter and cruised in the fourth. Durant flashed a wide-eyed look after serving up an alley-oop dunk to Green with 6:22 left. On their feet to start every game, the Thunder fans finished the night the same way.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, meanwhile, was left to question not only his team's energy, but its entire identity. The Jazz now have dropped five consecutive road games dating to their pre-Christmas trip.
"This team is a pretty talented team," Sloan said. "I've told you that from the beginning. But they have to have more toughness to overcome some of the things that they've got to overcome."
The Jazz ruin their three-game road trip from the start, losing to NBA-worst Oklahoma.