The Oklahoma City Thunder knew what they were doing giving Russell Westbrook a bit of rest as they hosted the Utah Jazz. Against the worst team in the NBA, without a single starter scoring more than 8 points, Kevin Durant for half a game is more than enough to pick up a 95-73 victory.
Sad, pathetic, tragic, abysmal. There are many ways to describe the first 15 games this season for the Utah Jazz. All of them will probably be an understatement for a team that shot 39.4% from the field, turned the ball over 18 times and were out of this game by the end of the first half, scoring only 30 points.
The Thunder? They didn’t need a special effort. Only 26 minutes for Kevin Durant, who shot only 3-of-9 from the field. It was still enough to score 19 points, easily getting to the line. Serge Ibaka continues his excellent shooting form with 8-of-13 from the field, scoring 17 points, grabbing 11 rebounds. Reggie Jackson in for Westbrook, Jeremy Lamb off the bench, even Perry Jones – this was the easiest night they’ll have all season long.
And for the Jazz? This might turn out to be the worst team in NBA history. Worst than the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats, or the Philadelphia 76ers in 1973. Right now they’re at 1-14, and there’s no real indication that things are going to get much better.
We’re trying to build who we are in this league with this group of guys, and we’ve got to have more of a sense of urgency to start a game, especially against a team that’s this good. That’s the more general, season-wide philosophy from Tyrone Corbin. As for the game itself? Marvin Williams provided the explanation: When you’re not scoring, it puts a lot of pressure on your defense to stop a team to keep the game close. Unfortunately for us, the team we had to stop was Oklahoma City. That’s how a game can kind of get away from you pretty quickly.
The simplest version? This was simply an awful team assembled. The Jazz knew they were going to be bad after letting go of Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, but this? Gordon Hayward can’t be a leading star on a team, and their belief that Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will put up big numbers along with big minutes was misplaced. Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams; those are washed up players. Sometimes, building for the future is smart, but teams shouldn’t look this awful while doing so.
As for the Thunder, this is the kind of game that means absolutely nothing. One of the best home teams in the NBA (6-0 so far this year), playing against a sad excuse for an NBA team won’t tell us anything. It’s simply a chance for Scott Brooks to rest his stars and give players like Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones the illusion that they have a shot at playing a meaningful role later in the season.