The Oklahoma City Thunder clashed with the Utah Jazz in their season opener Wednesday night, and the Thunder came away with the narrow 101-98 victory.
Kevin Durant was the star of the night for the Thunder, scoring 42 points and having six rebounds. Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefalosha added 14 points apiece, with Jackson also contributing five steals on the night.
For Utah, point guard Alec Burks came off the bench and scored 24 points, outscoring all starters in the remarkable effort. Four of the five Jazz starters did score in double-digits, however: Derrick Favors put up 15 points, Richard Jefferson had 12, Gordon Heyward added 10, and Enes Kanter added 14 more in what was a very complete performance for the Jazz.
The Jazz actually led for much of the first quarter, and proved to be fierce competition for the Thunder all night. When the Thunder surged back and led by as many as 11 themselves, Utah just would not quit.
With just over four and a half minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Heyward stole the ball from Oklahoma City’s Jackson and laid it up for an easy bucket, cutting the OKC lead to one point, 90-89. But Durant was unfazed by the comeback. From the elbow, he drained a one-legged, fadeaway jumper and put the Thunder up 92-89.
In the final minute, Heyward found Favors cutting to the basket, who then laid in the tough shot and brought the Jazz again within three, 97-94. Down to 15 seconds, Heyward inbounded the ball to Burks who fiercely drove to the basket, and scored. At 99-98, the Utah Jazz looked to take this one away from the Thunder. But per usual, Durant had other plans.
The Jazz fouled him on the inbound, and Durant knocked down both free throws to put the Thunder up 101-98. Utah had a final chance to score and send it to overtime, but Heyward’s shot from downtown rimmed out in heartbreaking fashion.
It was a thrilling season opener for these two teams, competitive until the final buzzer sounded.
With the win, the Oklahoma City start out the season 1-0. They travel to the Target Center on Friday, Nov. 1, to face the Minnesota Timberwolves at 8 p.m. ET.