SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Point guards Dennis Schroder and Russell Westbrook scored a combined total of 47 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 98-89 home win over the Utah Jazz at the Vivint Smart Home Arena on Monday.
Schroder emerged as the leading scorer for the Thunder with 24 points, including two 3-pointers, as well as capturing seven rebounds and providing three assists.
Westbrook narrowly missed a triple-double with 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, as the Thunder swept the season series 4-0.
“We did a great job, just competing, having fun out there, on the defensive end and on the offensive end,” Schroder said after the game.
Forward Paul George also played an important role in the Thunder’s win with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds – all of them on defense – while also making four assists, three steals and one block.
Center Steven Adams and forward Jerami Grant put up 12 points each, as the Thunder improved to a 41-26 record to hold on to fourth place in the Western Conference, the playoffs firmly within their grasp.
Point guard Donovan Mitchell led the attack for the Jazz (37-29) with 25 points, as Utah notched its second straight loss and dropped to the eighth and final spot of the Western Conference playoff standings.
Forward Royce O’Neal added 17 points while center Rudy Gobert had a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds to emerge as the best Jazz player in the paint.
Utah shot a meager 36 percent from the field compared to its opponent’s 46 percent shooting.
Although the Jazz scored 23 points off 16 Thunder turnovers, in the end, the decisive points, especially in second chance opportunities, always came to Oklahoma City.
Point guard Dante Exum, who had missed 25 games since Jan. 5 due to a left ankle sprain and bone bruise, returned to the Jazz to play for 15 minutes in a reserve role but failed to score.
“We really worked our tails off defensively, particularly in the half court, and we weren’t able to convert. That puts more pressure on our defense,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said after the game.
“I thought we hung in there and competed. Sometimes in a game you break through. We were close, but that didn’t happen,” he added.