Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort (5) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Lauri Markkanen had 33 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Utah Jazz to a 124-117 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.
John Collins chipped in 22 points and nine rebounds for the Jazz while Keyonte George added 16 points and five assists. Utah outscored the Thunder 19-9 in second-chance points and had a 60-36 edge in the paint.
“Our defense in protecting the paint is ultimately what gave us chance to win,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Oklahoma City with 28 points and seven assists. Jalen Williams had 26 points, five rebounds, and five assists and Chet Holmgren added 22 points and eight rebounds for the Thunder. Oklahoma City scored 21 points off 17 Utah turnovers.
The Thunder made 19 3-pointers but only scored eight points in the paint after halftime.
“They outrebounded us, they won the paint battle, losing those two things in the margins we lost them in, it’s going to be hard to win a basketball game,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “There’s things to fix before shot making.”
Williams made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the last one giving Oklahoma City a 113-112 lead with 3:54 left. George countered with a pair of 3-pointers and fed Markkanen for another basket that put the Jazz up 119-113 going into the final minute.
“Those are the moments you play for. You want to be in at the end of the games and making differences on either defense or offense,” Markkanen said.
It marked the second straight game Utah rallied from a second-half double-digit deficit to get a win at home.
“I think we’ve been playing our game,” Markkanen said. “Moving the ball. Moving without the ball. Getting good looks. Obviously, the percentages go up when you get good shots.”
Gilgeous-Alexander and Ousmane Dieng combined to score baskets on Oklahoma City’s final six first quarter possessions to give the Thunder a 33-28 lead. Oklahoma City kept rolling in the second quarter, eventually extending its lead to 41-31 on a turnaround jumper from Aaron Wiggins.
Utah erased the deficit and took a brief 50-49 lead on a layup by Collin Sexton. Back-to-back 3s by Cason Wallace and Luguentz Dort put the Thunder back in front before halftime.
Holmgren scored 13 points in the third quarter to help Oklahoma City extend its lead to 89-77. He scored three baskets and assisted another to cap a 16-6 run that put the Thunder up by double digits.
Markkanen matched Holmgren’s third quarter outburst, scoring 17 points in the quarter. His production helped the Jazz build enough momentum on offense to make another rally. Utah went on a 16-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to take a 98-92 lead.
“I give Utah credit, they showed great resolve,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “I thought the glass was a huge issue, and the paint was a huge issue. I thought the physicality (Utah) showed in the paint … was very uncharacteristic of us on both ends and really didn’t give us a lot of margin.”
Utah improved to 20-1 this season when leading to start the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma City is at Dallas on Saturday.
Utah is at Phoenix on Thursday night.