OKLAHOMA CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Mike Conley made his first appearance since April 26th, and the Jazz are on the verge of clinching the #1 seed in the Western Conference.
Conley, who had missed the last nine games with hamstring soreness, scored 10 points and dished out three assists in 16 minutes, as the Jazz cruised past Oklahoma City Friday night, 109-93.
“I went out there and had fun,” Conley said. “It was a lot of fun getting to the paint and making plays. Got to the free-throw line a lot. Kind of feeling out the game and picking and choosing my spots to be aggressive.”
If the Jazz beat Sacramento on Sunday, or Phoenix loses either Saturday or Sunday to San Antonio, Utah will clinch the top seed in the West.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 22 points, Jordan Clarkson had 18, while Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 18 rebounds for the Jazz, who snapped a two-game losing skid.
The Jazz have the league’s best record and a 1 1/2-game lead on idle Phoenix in the race for the top seed in the West.
Conley was on a minutes restriction and did not play in the second half.
“They know I want to play and they’re always there to protect me from myself,” Conley said.
The Jazz were glad to see him back and hope he finds his groove in time for the playoffs.
“Mike’s a huge part of what we do,” Gobert said. “He’s one of our leaders, he’s our most experienced player. We know that we’re going to need him.”
Svi Mykhailiuk scored 19 points, and Theo Maledon and Gabriel Deck each added 18 for the Thunder, who lost their ninth straight. Oklahoma City entered the night tied for the league’s third-worst winning percentage.
The Jazz led 61-47 at halftime. Bogdanovic scored 13 points in the first half and Gobert had nine points and 11 rebounds. Mykhailiuk scored 17 points in 11 minutes in the first half for the Thunder.
The Jazz expanded their lead in the third quarter and took a 92-66 advantage into the fourth.
Georges Niang returned to the bench after starting the last nine games in Conley’s absence and scored 11 points. Trent Forrest added nine points for the Jazz.
Utah (51-20) wraps up the regular season Sunday night at Sacramento. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m.
The Jazz will then open the playoffs next weekend at home, and will allow 13,000 fans into Vivint Arena to watch the game.