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Jazz fall 101-87 to Oklahoma City, and Jefferson stares straight ahead into Utah's challenge
Gordon Hayward on defending Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant: I think there were two plays that I remember. One where he just passed me and dunked it. And then there was one right after I fouled him at the beginning I laid off him and didn't get another foul and he hit a jumper in my face. But other than that, I thought I played solid on him. He's a good player. He's like a 6-11 shooting guard. You try to contest his shots and make things difficult. I feel like I did an all-right job on him.Playing strong defense at the end of last season and carrying over into this year: I feel like I can guard anyone in the league. I feel like I'm long enough and quick enough that I can at least contest most shots.Al Jefferson with a Utah Jazz state-of-the-union: I've been on a team that's gone through this. We're going through it. This is time, like you said, we've got to stay together. We've got to find a way. We talk about being a playoff team. We talk about winning championships. We've got to get through this. … We've just got to do it. Talking about it is one thing, but doing it is another. So we've just got to do it. I'm ready. This is what we play for. We lost three in a row now. It's not fun. We've still got a winning record. We're still in the mix. But at the same time, we let this get out of hand, we can be on the outside looking in.Before the game, Enes Kanter sat in front of his locker, sorting through about six boxes of new, humongous shoes. Size 16, to be exact. "17's too big," Kanter said. Under Armour, Adidas and Converse gave Kanter a variety of shoes to try in different colors and styles, with one pair sporting Celtics-esque green. Kanter's yet to sign a shoe contract, and he was fascinated by the sneaker overload.Derrick Favors, DeMarre Carroll and Al Jefferson discussed presume the merits of Lil Wayne. Favors, who looked more at home than ever talking shop, stuck by The Carter III while others panned it. The dissenters favored old-school Wayne, giving Favors a hard time.Carroll didn't specifically know Favors before joining the Jazz but knew of him through "the game."Carroll almost signed with the Jazz before inking with Denver. Utah's dry-erase playoff board continues to intensify. The entire Western Conference standings have long been displayed with records and logos for all 15 teams. Friday, matchups for all teams in the top eight were added next to the standings.Hayward was Utah's best overall player, finishing with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting, four assists, two steals, two rebounds and two blocks.Strong start by Devin Harris. But he and several of his teammates faded down the stretch.Rough night for Paul Milsap (4 of 15), who's a combined 7 of 25 during recent losses to the Thunder and New York.Raja Bell hit all three of his field-goal attempts during the first quarter, including two 3s. He only attempted two more field goals the rest of the game, though, finishing with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting.Alec Burks didn't play for the fourth consecutive game. Burks, the No. 12 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, and Jeremy Evans (No. 55 in 2010) have seen their roles become limited, at best, during the past week.Favors and Kanter both played 13:47. They combined for 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, while Kanter collected five rebounds and at times dominated the low post. Josh Howard has struggled during his last four games, averaging 6 points on 7-of-23 shooting. He hasn't been the same offensive asset since returning from a left quad injury.Earl Watson's lately been either/or. He had six assists Friday but was scoreless in 19:36.OKC won by 14, despite Durant only putting up 10 shots.Serge Ibaka often owned the paint, scoring 16 points and grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.Utah scored just 14 points in the second quarter and 22 or less during the second through fourth after a 30-point first period.The Jazz have been held to 88 points or less in three of four games and have only broke the 100-point barrier once in five.OKC outscored Utah 19-8 in second-chance points and outrebounded the Jazz 46-32.On a very good night Friday Westbrook rivals Chris Paul and Derrick Rose as the best in the game. He was often untouchable against the Jazz. Utah entered the game wanting to force him to take outside jumpers. He did just that, scoring a game-high 28, and controlled everything from the tempo to the outcome.Seems like the Jazz face a new test every week. Starting Sunday, they have three. Utah plays its lone back-to-back-to-back, with all three games away from cozy ESA. The Jazz can come home with a winning record, playing .500 ball or a losing mark for the first time Jan. 2. Jefferson said he'll only accept victory and he wants his teammates to do the same.Brian T. SmithTwitter: @tribjazz