The Oklahoma City Thunder just got finished playing their first game of the NBA season. They slid away with a victory as the Utah Jazz gave them all they could handle in a 101-98 win for OKC. Both teams showed signs of rust as they stumbled towards the finish line.
The absence of Russell Westbrook obviously put limits on the Thunder’s playbook, but his replacement Reggie Jackson came through in a major way. Jackson scored 14 points, five steals and hit two late fourth-quarter free throws to sink the Jazz deeper on the scoreboard.
It would be Kevin Durant and his pair of clutch free throws that ultimately did the Jazz in for good. Durant was by far the best player in the NBA tonight as he dazzled with a 42-point performance in his first game of the year.
Jeremy Lamb wasn’t able to get it going, only putting up four points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field. It wasn’t a good game for Lamb, but the second-year player will need some time to adjust to his new role on the team. You cannot just step in there out of nowhere and put up solid numbers, especially if you were barely getting out of your warm-ups the year before.
It’ll be a long road in the development of Lamb, and Thunder fans will have to be patient and be sure not get discouraged after his performance.
Thabo Sefolosha was about the only other bright spot for OKC as he also put up 14 points along with a solid effort on the defensive end. Serge Ibaka had a rough night as well. He finished the game 4-of-15 from the field, but did manage to grab 10 rebounds and two blocks.
The most troubling stat of the night for the Thunder was their low number of assists. They finished the game with only nine dimes compared to the Jazz’s 25 assists. It’s a low number, but not that surprising. The assist numbers will rise as the season goes on and players are re-introduced to what it means to play as a team for 48 minutes.
There’s never a lot to take away from game one of the regular season. The only thing it comes down to is a win or a loss, and the Thunder are more than happy to walk out of Utah with a victory. The Thunder have a day off before they hit the road on Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. We’ll see if the Thunder will be able to shake off some of the rust that showed during their first game.