The Jazz fell to the Thunder 110-87 on Wednesday night, bringing their record to 33-32 with 17 games left on the schedule.
The Utah Jazz somehow found a way to stay in the playoff hunt for the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Thanks to the Atlanta Hawks beating the Los Angeles Lakers, the Jazz remain just a half game back of their rivals for the final playoff spot. While the Lakers almost squeaked out a road win the Jazz were having one of their worst performances of the season in Oklahoma City against the Thunder.
For the first nine minutes of the game there was hope, there was execution, there was energy. An 11-0 run by OKC quickly took care of that notion, but the Jazz somehow battled back to within five, three minutes into the second quarter.
Things began to unravel when the Jazz played and the wheels completely came off. They failed to score in the final eight minutes before halftime and ended up down 22 points; even though Kevin Durant was visibly upset at himself for his atrocious play.
We know they’re a good team,” said ESPN color commentator Hubie Brown after a bad Utah fast break towards the end of the second quarter. “We know they’ve had good wins during the year.”
During that stretch however, it was hard to remember any time the Jazz had looked like a playoff team.
Things got even worse in the third quarter when Durant started to play like Durant and the Jazz continued to shoot well below 30 percent from the field. With 5:47 remaining in the third quarter, the Jazz had more turnovers than made shots. Gordon Hayward air balled consecutive shots and Earl Watson looked like a real-life Uncle Drew trying to guard Russell Westbrook. Aside from a few interesting technical fouls and scrums, the game was almost unwatchable.
Enes Kanter and Hayward ended up having decent games while making the final score look somewhat respectable in the fourth quarter. Kanter has played like a third overall pick the last five games. He’s been a bright spot during a horrendously timed stretch. Kanter is showing fans glimpses into what could and should be a very bright future.
The 23-point loss to OKC tonight is drastically different than just a month ago when the Jazz trounced the Thunder in Salt Lake City. Tonight was an effortless performance that, if repeated, will undoubtedly leave the Jazz out of the playoffs.
Utah has an exponentially tougher schedule than what the Lakers have left, but Kobe Bryant’s severely sprained ankle could end up being the biggest boost to the Jazz’s chances of slipping into the playoffs for the second year in a row. Memphis, New York, Houston and San Antonio are the teams that make up the next four games for the Jazz. All while LA will be tasked with taking on Indiana, Sacramento, Phoenix, and Washington.
Eight of the last ten games have been lost by the Jazz and it’s obviously not going to get any easier.
If things don’t change and the attitude and execution stay the same, the Jazz won’t be in the hunt, they’ll be in the lottery.