Utah Jazz can't measure up to the Thunder
Oklahoma City •Â Ty Corbin wanted to measure his team against the best.
So after the Jazz's 88-82 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah's fourth preseason defeat in a row, what was the assessment from Corbin's players?
"We still got work to do," forward Derrick Favors said. "I think we did good, but we still got a lot of work to do."
As the Jazz took the court against the Thunder on Sunday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, it was a showcase of teams in very different places. One is built to win now, the other hopes to get there eventually. The Thunder are talked about as title contenders. The Jazz are mentioned more often when talk turns to the NBA lottery.
"We're growing to that and they're there," Corbin said.
From the time Kevin Durant opened the game with a turnaround jump shot until the final whistle, the Thunder never trailed. The Jazz tied the game at 12 midway through the first, but Oklahoma City went on a 15-2 run over the rest of the first and part of the second.
The Jazz, meanwhile, struggled to make baskets, shooting just 38.2 percent from the floor.
"We've got to knock down shots," said forward Gordon Hayward. "We're not shooting the ball very well, hesitating on open looks. We just have to take what they give us. If you're open shoot. If not, then make a play or pass."
Hayward led the way for Utah, finishing with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Center Enes Kanter and guard Alec Burks also finished in double-digits for the Jazz, with 18 and 10 points respectively.
Utah was cold from the beginning. The Jazz found space on the pick-and-roll but missed open looks.
"That's what I'm talking about," Hayward said. "It's tough when you get the same look three times in a row and you just miss them, because it makes you second guess yourself on that fourth."
Durant scored 5 points in the first half, and spent the second cheering his teammates on from the bench.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who is expected to miss four to six weeks after undergoing knee surgery, also sat courtside and watched as his replacement torched the Jazz.
Third-year guard Reggie Jackson went 3 for 3 from beyond the arc and led the Thunder with 18 points.
The Thunder shot 37.8 percent from the field, and Corbin said he was pleased with his team's defensive progress.
"I think our defense is coming," he said. "I think our defense right now is ahead of where our offense is. â¦ We've got to find ways to get the ball in the basket."
With a lineup heavy on players just trying to make the team, the Jazz won the fourth quarter, outscoring Oklahoma City 20-11. Burks looked comfortable running the point with that unit, and rookie guard Ian Clark scored 7 points in the final quarter.
Oklahoma City moved to 4-1 in preseason, while the Jazz dropped their fourth in a row after opening with a blowout win over Golden State.
The Jazz now travel to Los Angeles for games against the Lakers Tuesday and Friday, and a game against the Clippers on Wednesday.
"We've got to figure something out," Kanter said in the locker room afterward. "It don't matter real season, preseason. We are just tired of losing. I'm tired of losing."
Thunder 88, Jazz 82
R The Jazz shoot just 56.3 percent from the free-throw line (18 of 32) .