Oklahoma City • In one of the rare moments Wednesday that the Jazz showed signs of life in their latest road debacle, DeMarre Carroll hit Kevin Durant with a hard shoulder midway through the third quarter of an eventual 110-87 loss.
The play mirrored one from a month earlier, when the Jazz beat the Thunder 109-94 in Salt Lake City on Feb. 12. In that game, a frustrated Durant trucked Alec Burks as he tried to get to the basket, flattening him with a shoulder blow.
Was Carroll’s foul payback?
“I wasn’t even thinking about that,” Carroll said. “My whole thing was just trying to stop the ball.”
He did that. The play kept Durant, who had scored 12 points already in the quarter, from getting to the basket. But it also ignited some hostilities.
Russell Westbrook ran up to Carroll, and Durant got in the mix to protect Westbrook. A technical foul was issued against Westbrook, and Carroll was called for a flagrant.
As Westbrook stood up for Durant on Wednesday, Carroll did the same for Burks back in Salt Lake City.
For his part, Durant said he was not upset with Carroll’s foul.
“It was a hard foul,” he told The Oklahoman newspaper. “That’s it. I did the same thing to one of their guys in Utah, so I couldn’t be too upset about it.”
Through one half, Carroll and the Jazz had held Durant to eight points on 2-of-7 shooting from the floor. In the second half, Durant got hot and Carroll said he was simply trying to disrupt the superstar’s flow.
“That’s what defensive people do,” he said. “You don’t just let a guy keep going and keep having the rhythm. I fouled him. I didn’t think it was a flagrant foul, but I guess because the crowd got into it and everybody got bunched up they had to call a flagrant.”
For casual NBA fans, that the Utah Jazz ever win come as a surprise. In games broadcast nationally, the Jazz this season have been downright awful. After Wednesday’s loss to the Thunder, Utah fell to 1-3 in games televised by ESPN. When you expand that to include games picked up by NBA TV, the Jazz are just 2-9 on national channels.
The Jazz have not played on TNT this season.
It’s a bad trend for a Jazz team that plays its next two games on national TV: Saturday on NBA TV against Memphis, and Monday’s rematch with the New York Knicks on ESPN.
Entering Wednesday, Jazz players had been called for just 18 technical fouls in 64 games. By the end of the night, they had added an uncharacteristic three more to their season total.
Gordon Hayward said the technical fouls were the products of not only heated moments on the floor, but also the cumulative effect of losing eight of 10 games. Marvin Williams and Enes Kanter were both called for technical fouls in the second half when Hasheem Thabeet fouled Hayward hard in the lane, and Hayward was later called for a technical of his own.
“There were some technicals that probably shouldn’t have been called,” he said, “but I think they [the referees] just didn’t want the game to get out of hand.”
Paul Millsap leads the Jazz with five technical fouls, well off the leaders. Kobe Bryant is No. 1 in the NBA with 14. Coach Tyrone Corbin is tied for second among coaches with five, as well.