Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant scored 48 points Tuesday night — the most by an NBA player this season.
After the Jazz’s 112-101 victory at EnergySolutions Arena, however, the Thunder talked mostly about their lack of defense.
“That’s not how we play,” said coach Scott Brooks. “That’s not what makes us successful. … Our defense gave up 58 percent [shooting] when we usually give up 41 or 42 percent.”
Before this season, an individual Jazz opponent had scored over 40 points in a game only 92 times in franchise history. Durant has now done it twice since Oct. 30, including a 42-point effort in the opener.
“Kevin was good,” Brooks said. “He gave us a chance. … But the problem wasn’t who was out there. It was how we were playing. We didn’t play our style of basketball. We’re a defensive team and we gave up too many points.”
Durant agreed, suggesting the Thunder played hard only after they fell behind by 24 points midway through the third quarter.
“We fought,” he said, “but we can’t play just one quarter. We had no toughness tonight. We made too many mental mistakes and they capitalized on it.”
Oklahoma City’s trouble started in the first quarter, when the Jazz made 12 of their 17 shots and took a 30-28 lead.
“The mind is a powerful thing,” Durant said. “You see that ball go through the basket and you think every shot you put up is going in. We have to take them away from them.”
Said Brooks: “They were able to pick us apart. They came out with better energy. They came out with more focus on the offensive end. That surprises me because we are a team that always takes the next game as the most important one. Tonight, that wasn’t the case.”
The Thunder played without forward Serge Ibaka, one of the NBA’s top shot-blockers who missed the game because of flu-like symptoms.
Asked if Ibaka’s presence would have made a difference, Brooks said, “I don’t look at that at all. Serge was out and I have full respect and confidence in our [other] guys to step up and play no matter who’s on on the floor — no matter who’s out. Every team battles injuries. …We just didn’t step up defensively.”
Thunder highlights and lowlights
• Kevin Durant scores 48 points — the most by an NBA player this season — but the Jazz beat Oklahoma City.
• The Thunder had not allowed 112 points since Nov. 29, when they beat Golden State by a point in overtime.