SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Jazz All-Star certainly played like on in the team’s first game back from the All-Star break.
Lauri Markkanen hit three free throws with 4.6 seconds left in overtime to give Utah the lead and finished with 43 points and 10 rebounds as the Jazz beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-119 on Thursday night.
Markkanen scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, 30 in the second half, helping the Jazz rally from a nine-point deficit early in the period. Walker Kessler tipped in a layup with 4.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.
“Yeah, I’m more confident,” Markkanen said. “My mindset going into games is go make a difference and be a finisher.”
Jordan Clarkson added 24 points and six assists for Utah. Kessler had 18 rebounds, Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji chipped in 12 points apiece, and Kris Dunn added 11 in his Jazz debut.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 39 points and missed a potential game-winning jumper at the overtime buzzer for the Thunder. He also had eight rebounds and seven assists. Josh Giddey added 18 points and 11 rebounds, Kenrich Williams had 16 points off the bench, and Lu Dort contributed 11 points and 11 boards.
Markkanen tied the game on a layup with 1:26 remaining. Oklahoma City again jumped out to a lead in overtime and maintained its advantage until Markkanen was fouled on a 3-point attempt in the closing seconds and made his free throws.
“We got heart, we never give up,” Markkanen said. “Even when we’re down no matter how many points, we’re gonna keep fighting and work our way back one possession at a time. That’s what we did tonight.”
“He’s played with a tremendous amount of aggressiveness,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “His physicality has gone up as the season has gone on.”
Utah played without starting point guard Collin Sexton, who has a left hamstring injury. Talen Horton-Tucker made his second start of the season.
The Thunder forced 22 turnovers and scored 20 points off them.
The Jazz never led in the fourth quarter, but Markkanen tied it on a layup with 1:26 remaining. Oklahoma City again jumped out to a lead in overtime and maintained its advantage until Markkanen was fouled on a 3-point attempt in the closing seconds and made his free throws.
Oklahoma City ended the first half on a 9-0 run to take a 55-46 halftime lead. Jaylin Williams started the run with a 3-pointer and Kenrich Williams finished it off with a reverse layup.
Clarkson scored or assisted on Utah’s first six baskets in the second half and cut the deficit to 68-66 on a fadeaway jumper. The Thunder stopped the rally and built their only double-digit lead, going up 84-74 when Giddey drove for a reverse layup to cap a 10-3 run.
Rudy Gay played three scoreless minutes before leaving with a nasal fracture with 56.1 seconds remaining in first quarter. Kessler attempted and made his first career 3-pointer on the game’s first play after making a 3-pointer in the NBA Skills Challenge.
Hardy said Kessler pressured him into running a play for him.
“I may have created a monster,” Hardy said.
With the victory, the Jazz move back into the 10th seed in the Western Conference, a half game ahead of the Thunder. Utah next hosts San Antonio on Saturday.