NBA: Jazz fall to Oklahoma City despite shake-up
Oklahoma City • Ty Corbin was looking for a shake-up.
He got another letdown.
On the heels of a loss in Dallas that saw the Mavericks push the lead to 28 in the first half, the Utah Jazz coach made his most drastic changes of the season to his starting lineup Sunday night against the Thunder. Corbin started rookie Trey Burke at point guard and moved center Enes Kanter to the bench in favor of veteran Marvin Williams.
But the unit that helped spark a second-half rally in Texas wasn't the answer against Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City, as the Thunder cruised to a 95-73 victory.
"We're just trying to find it right now, man," said Williams, who scored only four points in the start. "We're working every day to try to find it."
Before the game, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks announced he would not play All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, calling it a rare opportunity to give him five nights off as he works his way back from offseason knee surgery.
Turns out he probably could have rested Durant, too.
The Jazz mustered just 13 points in the first quarter and added only 17 more in the second, as they shot just 33 percent from the field and managed only three free-throw attempts in the first half. The team's 30 points at intermission was a season low.
Gordon Hayward, who hit on just two of his nine attempts, called it simply a lack of execution from the struggling Jazz.
"I don't think we're getting good looks," said the swingman, who finished with 5 points. "It's hard to shoot contested jump shots at the end of the shot clock. That's hard to do. â¦ We've got to find a way to get better looks."
A part of that, Corbin said, could have been kinks from Burke's first NBA start.
"I thought he was a little hesitant coming down the floor early, trying to read things instead of pushing the pace," the coach said of Burke, who finished with four points and four assists. "We have to just make sure we relax and play."
Utah's scoring woes continued after halftime, as the Jazz tallied only 13 points in the third quarter. It wasn't until Kanter hit a free throw with 1.5 seconds left in the third quarter that Utah finally had a scorer in double figures. Kanter finished as the team's leading scorer with those 10 points despite missing most of the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle.
X-rays came back negative and the big man will be re-evaluated before Monday's game against the Chicago Bulls.
The third-year center, who started the previous 14 games for the Jazz, walked gingerly in the locker room after the game, but said his pride had not been hurt.
"I'm used to coming off the bench," Kanter said. "I'll do whatever it takes to win a game. If even Coach says, 'You're not going to play at all,' I will say, 'OK, Coach. You're the coach and I'm just a player and I'll do whatever you tell me to do.'"
For the Thunder, Durant played just nine minutes in the second half, finishing with 19 points. Serge Ibaka scored 17 while collecting 11 rebounds.
The Oklahoma City starters watched the fourth quarter from the bench as backups Jeremy Lamb (15 points) and Perry Jones (13 points) outscored every Utah player. The Jazz starters also sat, watching glumly as the Utah reserves, led by 10 points from center Rudy Gobert, scored as many points in the fourth as the team had in the game's first two quarters.
"You've got to go down fighting," Corbin said after the listless performance from his 1-14 team. "Whatever happens you've got to make sure you're giving your maximum effort. â¦ If they see a weakness, they're going to bury you. We can't afford to allow that to creep in. I thought we showed a little bit of that [weakness] tonight. We've got to make sure we get that out of us."
Storylines Thunder 95,Jazz 73
R Utah makes just 13 of its 29 free throws. The Thunder's Kevin Durant, meanwhile, is 12-for-13.
• The Thunder outrebound the Jazz 46-33.