Oklahoma City • It was a statement more about the condition of these Utah Jazz than a single performance.
Al Jefferson sat at his locker in the visitors’ locker room, spun an earring into his left lobe, and said, “I don’t feel bad at all about this loss.”
There was a time a loss to a division rival, the defending conference champions, would have infuriated the Jazz (9-8), and particularly one of their key leaders. But Jefferson’s candor did as much to illustrate the chasm between the Jazz and the top teams in the Western Conference as what had just transpired on the court.
Minutes earlier on Friday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder (13-4) beat the battered Jazz 106-94 in front of a sellout crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena in a game that — aside from a brief, thrilling Jazz run late in the game — was as thorough a trouncing as the Jazz have experienced all season.
“I think we did a great job against all odds,” Jefferson said. “Kept playing, never gave up.”
With Marvin Williams out with concussion symptoms and Derrick Favors pulled after nine minutes with the arch of his right foot strained, the Jazz, behind a curious collection of players, cut a once-18-point Thunder lead to 88-83 with 7:41 remaining, before the Thunder once again surged. Enes Kanter scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter to make things interesting for the Jazz.
One road game remains, Saturday at Houston, before the most brutal stretch of the schedule concludes, but the Jazz wrapped up November a very pedestrian 9-8 through 17 games.
While Jefferson remained optimistic, other Jazz players took the losses harder, including Kanter, who said he was unconcerned with his scoring total.
“We just lost the game,” he said, “and that’s what I’m really sad for.”
Said Paul Millsap: “This one hurts. We played hard. We did a lot of good things out there. Talent-wise they’ve got two players that took over the game in the fourth quarter.”
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 25 points, but it was Russell Westbrook who stole the show. Westbrook wasn’t far away from becoming the fifth player in NBA history to record a quadruple-double, recording 23 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and seven steals.
So, when the Jazz, led by Kanter, threatened in the fourth quarter, it was Westbrook who took over. He recorded back-to-back steals, including one with 7:08 remaining that led to an uncontested dunk for Durant, putting Oklahoma City up 92-83.Next Page »