Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 22 points to help the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder snap a three-game losing streak in a 114-98 victory over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Thursday night.
The result eliminated the short-handed Jazz (36-44) from postseason contention and pushed Thunder (39-42) one step closer to clinching a spot in the play-in tournament heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
Josh Giddy contributed 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Thunder. Eight OKC players scored at least nine points in the road win.
The Thunder will clinch a spot in the play-in with a win against Memphis on Sunday afternoon.
Kris Dunn finished with 22 points, eight assists and seven boards, while Kelly Olynyk totaled 16 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists to pace the Jazz.
Utah, playing without four starters, nearly overcame an early 16-point deficit but couldn’t overtake the Thunder in the third quarter after coming within one point on five different occasions.
OKC stormed out to its largest lead of 18 early in the fourth quarter by opening on a 10-0 run, capped by a Dario Saric 3 with 10:31 remaining. Saric had 14 points and 10 rebounds with two blocked shots.
Utah responded with seven straight by Johnny Juzang to make it an 11-point game, but that was the Jazz’s last push.
Isaiah Joe gave the Thunder a 45-29 lead by capping a 10-0 run with two free throws and a 3-pointer in the second quarter.
Utah held OKC to one basket in the final 3:58 of the first half while using a 14-2 scoring burst to narrow the gap to three, 55-52, by the break.
After fending off the Jazz’s comeback attempts, the Thunder stretched their lead to 84-76 going into the final period.
Oklahoma City won despite only shooting 40.2 percent from the field. The big difference came beyond the arc, where the Thunder hit 15 of 45 3s compared to a rough 5-for-31 3-point-shooting night for Utah.
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