SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Through all the roster turnover this season, the Utah Jazz stayed in the hunt for the postseason until the final few games, but their hopes came to an end Thursday night.
Utah made just 5-of-31 three-pointers and committed 19 turnovers in a 114-98 loss to Oklahoma City, ending the team’s hopes of making the play-in tournament.
“It’s a hard moment to know that you’re out,” head coach Will Hardy said. “But again I don’t think that our team shouldn’t walk out of here or think about this season in any other way than with their heads up, shoulders pulled back and with a lot of pride.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 22 points to lead the Thunder, who strengthened their hopes of reaching the play-in tournament.
Josh Giddey had 17 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, while Aaron Wiggins scored 15 for the Thunder, who snapped a three-game losing streak. They are 10th in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of Dallas with one game remaining.
Kris Dunn had a season-high 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Jazz, while Kelly Olynyk added 16 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.
“It’s a good group,” Dunn said. “It’s a good atmosphere to be around. Even through the losses and through the wins, everybody stays consistent with their attitude, and I think that’s a great thing to be around.”
The Jazz played a 1-3-1 zone that flustered Oklahoma City in the first half, but the Thunder attacked it with patience later on and got plenty of open looks.
With most of their shooters on the bench with injuries, the Jazz made a season-low five 3-pointers on 31 attempts.
When the Jazz trimmed the lead to 75-74, Gilgeous-Alexander scored the first seven of a 19-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to take command of the game.
The Jazz were extremely shorthanded once again, as Jordan Clarkson (finger), Rudy Gay (back), Talen Horton-Tucker (ankle), Walker Kessler (concussion) and Lauri Markkanen (hand) were all injured.
Even Collin Sexton, who returned after missing 18 games with a strained hamstring Tuesday against the Lakers, sat out.
Both teams had modest expectations this season but have chalked up surprising wins along the way and stayed competitive in most games.
Utah (36-44) will play its final two games of the regular season Saturday at home against Denver and Sunday in Los Angeles against the Lakers.