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Utah Jazz shootaround: Stopping Thunder's Westbrook No. 1 defensive priority

Published February 28, 2017 11:46 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The challenge for the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night when defending the Oklahoma City Thunder is simple: contain Russell Westbrook.

You won't find many instances where something simple can be so difficult.

The Thunder go as Westbrook goes this season. Stopping OKC's star point guard has proven next to impossible.

The two teams have split their two games this season. Westbrook shot 6 of 24 from the field when the Jazz won. He scored 38 points and hit the game-deciding shot when the Thunder won.

"Obviously Russell makes them go," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "But they've gotten better. [Alex] Abrines is shooting the ball well, and they've added shooting. They have guys. Russell isn't averaging 10 assists for nothing. They are the best rebounding team in the league."

Despite two consecutive wins to start the second half of the season, the Jazz were in a reflective mood Tuesday morning.

They beat the Washington Wizards on Sunday afternoon but turned over the ball 24 times. Utah knows that isn't going to fly if it wants to beat a Thunder team that's riding a three-game winning streak.

"It's something we absolutely have to clean up," Hayward said. "There is no way we can turn the ball over that many times and have success."

Utah enters Tuesday night with a 37-22 record, which is good for the fourth spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz lead the Los Angeles Clippers by one game in the fight for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

— Tony Jones






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