Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) dunks against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 6, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic scored 27 points, Rudy Gobert added 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Utah Jazz beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 137-101 on Wednesday night.
Jordan Clarkson had 18 points and a season-high 10 assists, and Hassan Whiteside added 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks to help the Jazz win their fifth straight home game.
Utah shot 59% from the field and outrebounded the Thunder 64-38.
Whiteside said surrendering a 21-point lead in a loss to Golden State on Saturday lit a fire under the Jazz that’s created positive momentum through the team’s last two games.
“It was unfortunate we had to lose that game that way, but I think it’s going to help us out in the long run,” Whiteside said. “It made us more connected as a team. It kind of showed our flaws.”
Jaylen Hoard scored 23 points for Oklahoma City. Isaiah Roby and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl each added 18 points.
With nine inactive players due to a slew of injuries, the Thunder struggled to keep pace with Utah once the Jazz found their shot.
“You have to have intelligent attacks against this team because that’s what they do to you,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. “They limit your options and then, if you’re kind of hasty in there with their bigs, then it can be a really long night on the offensive end. That’s why they’re such a good defense.”
Utah surged ahead late in the first quarter on a layup from Bogdanovic that sparked a 16-2 run. The Jazz scored baskets on nine straight possessions capped by back-to-back dunks and a tip-in basket from Gobert.
Oklahoma City cut the deficit to two points in the second quarter, with Lindy Waters III making three straight 3-pointers to fuel a 13-2 run. Hoard cut to the rim for a layup to cap the run and trim Utah’s lead to 57-55.
Clarkson answered with back-to-back baskets to keep Oklahoma City from overtaking the Jazz. He also set up baskets from Gobert on consecutive possessions to help Utah take a 71-58 lead into halftime.
Utah held the Thunder in check by attacking the rim early and often. The Jazz outscored Oklahoma City 60-36 in the paint.
“When the ball is moving and defenses shift, you have an opportunity to attack the close outs,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “Those quick decisions get you on the rim. That’s what I saw as far as us moving the defense.”
The Jazz led by double digits virtually the entire second half.
After the Thunder cut the deficit to nine on a 3-pointer from Robinson-Earl, Utah used a 27-5 run to build up a 118-87 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“That’s a really high-level, elite team with a lot of experienced guys and they were able to really get after it in second half,” Robinson-Earl said.
Thunder: Robinson-Earl set a career high in scoring after not playing in Oklahoma City’s 98-94 win over Portland a night earlier. … Zavier Simpson had 11 assists in his second NBA game.
Jazz: Donovan Mitchell (rest), Mike Conley (right knee injury maintenance), and Royce O’Neale (right thumb soreness) were inactive. … Utah scored a season-high 41 points in the first quarter. … Jared Butler had eight assists in the second half en route to a career-high 10.
Trent Forrest started for the Jazz after missing three games because of a concussion. His return to the court didn’t last long.
Forrest sprained his left foot and exited with 1:39 remaining in the second quarter, He did not return in the second half. Butler started in his place after halftime. Forrest finished with four points and two assists in 12 minutes.
“It’s been tough on him,” Snyder said concerning the recent spate of injuries. “He was playing really well tonight. He’s unique in some of the things that he can do.”
FREE THROW FRENZY
A night after attempting a season-high 43 free throws against Memphis, the Jazz followed with 32 free throw attempts against Oklahoma City. It marked the first time since December where Utah attempted 30 or more free throws in back-to-back contests.
Thunder: At Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Jazz: Host Phoenix on Friday night.