“I think that was pivotal,” said backup point guard Earl Watson. “We had a chance to score. I don’t know what the score was, but it would have changed the momentum significantly.”
Coach Tyrone Corbin was called for a technical foul, which further boosted the Thunder, who went on a 13-6 run after the Jazz pulled within five.
“I thought it was a huge play,” Corbin said. “We had the ball, we had a chance to get a possession and get to the basket. I thought he hit our guy and got his hands on the ball, but the referee saw it a different way and we had to deal with it.”
The Jazz trailed just 22-20 at the end of the first quarter, having avoided the slow first start that plagued them in nearly every other game this season. However, led by Kevin Martin, the Thunder pulled away in the second quarter. The first-year Oklahoma City guard, acquired before the season in the James Harden trade, scored nine points in the quarter.
After the Jazz tied the game at 25 on a 3-pointer by Gordon Hayward, who scored 13 points and was among six Jazz players to reach double figures, the Thunder ran off a 10-2 run.
“This is who these guys are,” Corbin said, “they’re going to make some runs.”
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