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Vitals: Thunder at Jazz

Vitals: Thunder at Jazz Vitals: Thunder at Jazz

Originally Published: Nov 24, 2009 12:20 PM CDT

Dave Carty
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

Oklahoma City Thunder (7-7) at Utah Jazz (7-6)
Tuesday, November 24, 8:00 p.m.
EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Game 15 of 82

Anticipated Starting Lineups

Oklahoma City (Away)
Utah (Home)
Russell Westbrook
16.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 7.1 APG
Deron Williams
19.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 9.9 APG
Thabo Sefolosha
6.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.8 APG
Wesley Matthews
6.9 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 0.5 APG
Kevin Durant
27.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.7 APG
Ronnie Brewer
12.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.5 APG
Jeff Green
14.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.3 APG
Carlos Boozer
18.3 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 3.1 APG
CNenad Krstic
8.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.3 APG
Mehmet Okur
14.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.9 APG

Oklahoma City: F, Nick Collison (knee, questionable), G Shaun Livingston (knee, out).
Utah: C, Mehmet Okur (flu, day-to-day), G/F Matt Harpring (knee, out), G/F Kyle Korver (knee, out), G, C.J. Miles (thumb, out), G Ronnie Price (toe, out).

Where to find it?
On TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
On Radio: Thunder Radio Network

What you need to know?

The Utah Jazz is a strong shooting team – its 47.7 percent team field goal percentage is fourth in the league. Hampered by injuries, the Jazz has still won three straight and four of its last five games. Utah has thrown out four different starting lineups, but success has followed. This game is equally important for both teams. At this pace, the two teams could compete for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. These two teams will meet again three more times and it’s important for each team to try get the upper-hand in this series.

Last time out, the Los Angeles Lakers scored more in the first quarter (35 points) than the Thunder did in the first half (34). That early hole buried the Thunder, keeping it from sparking its usual second half push. The Thunder defense has been about ten points better than last season – and is fifth-best this season – but the offense has been pedestrian. Establishing a defensive identity is by no means a bad thing – look at the Boston Celtics – but the team must also score points – again, look at the Celtics.

Who to watch?

Much of the Jazz offense will come from Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams. One of those two has led the Thunder in point in nine of 13 games. The Jazz is also strong off the bench. Former franchise player Andrei Kirilenko has improved from last season and still has gas in the tank. When given a chance, Paul Millsap can also score and has seen an increase of minutes in the absence of other Jazz players.

Serge Ibaka opened some eyes against the Lakers, having his best career game in relief of the injured Nick Collison. His 13-rebound performance was the second best so far this season – topped by Jeff Green’s 14 rebounds against Washington in the previous game. He also added five blocks as the Thunder tied an all-time franchise record with 15 team blocks. Ibaka’s performance and presence in the post is exactly what the Thunder need. He’s topped 20 minutes only twice this season, but that may change if Collison can’t stay on the court.
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