The Oklahoma City Thunder are already without All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, but they lost a second of their superstar players, Serge Ibaks, to the flu before their game with the Utah Jazz and it was not enough to keep up. Despite Oklahoma City holding the best record in the Western Conference, losing two stars caused them to lose to the team with the worst record in the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz, 112-101 on Jan. 7.
Ibaka is averaging 14.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks a game and is having one of the best seasons of his career. Replacing him in the starting lineup was the young Perry Jones, who proved to not be ready for the spotlight yet. Jones played 15 minutes but scored no points, only attempting one show. He also finished with three rebounds and no blocks.
The Thunder really missed their star power forward. Nick Collison did what he could from the bench in 30 minutes on the floor, but finished with only eight points and six rebounds.
This was a two-man show for the Thunder, as Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 48 points to go with seven rebounds and two blocks. Reggie Jackson finished with 20 points, six assists and four steals. No other Thunder player hit double digits and the team only shot 39.3 percent from the field and 17.6 percent from beyond the arc.
The Jazz had solid performances from all their starters, who all reached double digits as did one reserve. Gordon Hayward led the way with 37 points and the Jazz hit 58.8 percent of their shots from the field and a nice 44.4 percent from three-point land.
The loss caused the Thunder to fall into a tie with the San Antonio Spurs for the Western Conference lead while the win pulled the Jazz out of the basement, half a game up on the Sacramento Kings.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will hope to rebound in their next game against division rival Denver Nuggets on Jan. 9.