Despite opening the season without star point guard, the Oklahoma City Thunder best the Utah Jazz 101-98 on Oct. 30 to tip off the season on a positive note. However, while the win was nice, the three point win over a team in rebuilding mode is a little worrisome.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 42 points, while pulling down six rebounds, nabbing three steals and delivering one assist. Outside of Durant, only Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha scored in double digits, both scoring 14 points in the game.
Jackson, who is staring in place of Westbrook, played for 32 minutes and is the clear stand-in until his All-Pro teammate returns. He also finished the game with three assists and an impressive five steals. On the defensive side, Serve Ibaka finished with 10 rebounds and two blocks in the game, to go with his eight points. Kendrick Perkins also had eight rebounds, but only four points.
The Thunder went into the half with a nice 56-48 lead, but the Jazz roared back and outscored Oklahoma City in the second half, 50-44, to make it a game at the end. With 4:20 remaining in the game, a Gordon Hayward steal from Jackson turned into a basket that brought the game within one point, 90-89. However, Durant scored nine points in the final four minutes to the game to give the Thunder the win.
Alec Burks led the Jazz with 24 points in the game and six Utah players scored in double digits with center Enes Kanter finishing with a double-double, scoring 14 points with 10 rebounds.
The Oklahoma City Thunder next head to Minnesota to battle the Timberwolves on Friday before coming back home for their home season debut on Sunday against the Phoenix Suns.