This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Rudy Gobert walked back to the locker room at the start of the fourth quarter Monday night, in pain and holding his hand against his lower back.
The diagnosis: a tailbone contusion and, fortunately for the Utah Jazz, not a serious one. So the center was back on the bench a short while later to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder finish kicking the Jazz's hind ends.
On their home floor, the Jazz suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season, a 111-89 whooping at the hands of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.
Oh yeah, this one hurt.
And the Jazz want to remember how bad it felt.
"We've got to make sure that we let this feeling sit for a little while," said forward Gordon Hayward, who led Utah with 19 points, four assists and three rebounds. "You don't want to have that again."
For a second straight game, the Jazz fell unraveled in the second quarter. Utah was outscored 35-17 on Friday night in Dallas, digging themselves a hole too deep to climb back out. On Monday, it was the same story as the Thunder dropped 40 points on the Jazz in the second.
The Jazz bobbled the ball, threw lazy passes and struggled on offense. Their defense seemed to rarely have time to get set as the Thunder hit 14-of-19 attempts raced to 11 fast-break points in the period.
"That second quarter really deflated us," guard Rodney Hood said.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder didn't want to simply brush this loss off as one game in a schedule of 82.
"These things do happen. You see the ticker and you see teams that on a given night take it in the chin," he said. "I think for our group to leave it there is a mistake. … For us again the opportunity is to dig in."
The Jazz lacked "force and precision" on Monday-and you can bet there will be plenty of lessons taught in learned as they watch the film from this blowout on Tuesday.
"We're making dumb plays on defense that I know we know not to make and it's just a lack of concentration collectively," Snyder said, attributing some of the problems to the team's road-heavy and practice-light schedule early in the year.
Aside from Hayward, only Gobert (10) and forward Derrick Favors (11 points and seven rebounds) reached double-digit scoring for the Jazz Monday.
The Thunder, meanwhile, got star performances from their two All-Stars. Westbrook scored 20 points and flirted with a triple-double by adding nine assists and seven rebounds. And Durant didn't miss a beat in his return from a hamstring injury that had kept him out of six straight games before Monday night.
"We did another MRI on him. Everything came back clean. He is ready and feels good," OKC coach Billy Donovan said before the game. "There was no reason to sit him out any further."
The Jazz probably wished they had looked harder for one.
The former MVP torched Utah, scoring 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting.
The Jazz's two largest losses of the season have now come in Salt Lake City: a 16-point defeat to Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers and now Monday's 22-point blowout loss to OKC. The Jazz play 10 of their next 15 at home, but as they proved Monday, that's a guarantee of nothing-especially with a schedule that includes a visit from the unbeaten Golden State Warriors next week and a return trip for the Thunder early next month.
Perhaps the Thunder (9-6) could have been a measuring stick for the Jazz-a chance for a team hoping to make the playoffs to see how it stacked up against a premier Western Conference team back at full strength. Instead OKC was a ruler rapped cruelly across the knuckles of a young team that appeared to be very much on the outside looking in.
"They're really good," Hayward said. "They've got some good players, one of the best teams in the West when they're healthy for sure. But we can compete with this team, we've shown. We've beaten them before. Just not tonight. We got outplayed in every way tonight. It's unacceptable. It was embarrassing."