Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder reactions: What went right/wrong?

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 21: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz drives to the basket during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 21, 2017 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 21: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz drives to the basket during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 21, 2017 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz looked absolutely phenomenal on both ends of the floor in an incredible win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

Wow… Wow, wow, wow. I was admittedly feeling less than optimistic about the Utah Jazz’s chances against the Oklahoma City Thunder prior to Saturday’s contest and boy was I ever wrong (and thankfully so). The Utah Jazz’s defense surpassed even its own illustrious reputation as it held the high-octane Thunder to just 87 points and completely shut down reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.

Brodie finished with a meager six points on 2-of-11 shooting while also being frustrated into seven turnovers. And as impressive as that feat was, it was obviously far from the only thing that the Jazz did well in what was nothing short of a statement win over a team that many have projected to run away with the division title and be one of the top squads in the conference.

What Went Right?

The simple answer to this question? Nearly everything. Although Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony seem like a daunting trio, quite honestly the Jazz’s defense and relentless offensive attack that came from several contributors across the board proved to be too much even for the star power of the Thunder’s Big 3.

Specifically, the Jazz nailed two out of my three keys to victory from before the game in a big way. First of all, they absolutely forced OKC into an inefficient shooting night. I already touched on Westbrook’s struggles, but George and Anthony were far from accurate either. PG put up a solid 22 points, but went just 8-of-19 from the field and 3-of-9 from deep whereas Melo had 26 points but took 26 shots to get them.

Beyond that, as a team the Thunder shot an uninspiring 41 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from behind the arc. In other words, the entire team was kept in check by Utah’s defense essentially all night long.

The Jazz were also exceptional on offense as they benefited from five players finishing in double figures. They utilized a balanced attack that quite frankly at many times had the Thunder appearing absolutely overwhelmed. Of the bunch, Joe Ingles was particularly impressive as he logged a team-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 5-of-9 from deep. Ingles is off to a great start from the three-point line as he’s shooting 63.2 percent through three games.

Ricky Rubio also continues to impress as he finished the game with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists. His shooting percentage once again left much to be desired, but he also hit key shots in critical moments and was phenomenal at setting the tone on offense and playing relentless, pesky defense.

Last of all, Utah’s bench was once again spectacular as they helped outmatch OKC’s second unit and kept the Jazz in the driver’s seat even when the starting five was off the court. Yet again, I have to give a special shout-out to Ekpe Udoh who was absolutely stunning on defense. Prior to the season, Udoh declared himself one of the best defenders in the world and while the statement seemed outlandish to some at the time, he certainly has put his money where his mouth is thus far.

We all knew that the Jazz’s success this season was going to be predicated on several players across their deep roster stepping up and so far, albeit in a small sample size, such has certainly been the case.

What Went Wrong?

It’s hard to criticize the Jazz much after delivering a slap to the face to a purported Western Conference powerhouse, but there were a few things that the Jazz can shore up despite the incredible victory. First of all, while I mentioned that the Jazz knocked two of my three keys to victory out of the park, they once again struggled with the other key – limiting turnovers. Utah finished the game with 18 giveaways, which was definitely more than they’d like to see.

Other than that, Donovan Mitchell’s shooting woes continue as he went just 1-of-7 from the field. He did plenty of other things well and logged a team-high six assists, but it would be encouraging to see him settle into a shooting groove moving forward.

Last of all, for a third straight game Rudy Gobert finished with a negative plus/minus. He was only a minus-two Saturday night, which was a vast improvement from the first two games, and he obviously was a major contributor in other ways, but given the fact that he led the team in plus/minus last season, it’s been odd to see him not match that impact so far this year.

I imagine as he gets more comfortable with his new point guard and several other new faces, that will change drastically. Rudy’s still likely destined for a fantastic season and his minor struggles thus far are no reason for concern just yet.

Next: Utah Jazz shut down Russell Westbrook, OKC with suffocating defense

There’s no questioning that this was a huge win for the Jazz and could very well help set the tone for the rest of the season. Utah will now benefit from a few days off to recuperate and learn from their minor mistakes, then will be off to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Tuesday.

If they can replicate their defensive effort from Saturday’s contest and continue to roll out a surprisingly effective offense, then they should very well be able to enjoy continued success moving forward.