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February 13, 2013

Utah stops Thunder win streak in its tracks

SALT LAKE CITY — Al Jefferson scored 23 points, Paul Millsap had 18 and the Utah Jazz beat Oklahoma City 109-94 Tuesday night to break the Thunder’s four-game winning streak.

Utah’s bench outscored Oklahoma City’s 49-25, and the Jazz bigs dominated the boards, holding a 16-7 edge on offensive rebounds.

The Thunder also committed 20 turnovers.

The game was scrappy from the start, with Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Durant both called for flagrant fouls, and Perkins whistled for a technical. It was the first flagrant foul of Durant’s career.

The Jazz led by seven entering the fourth but quickly put the game away, opening on a 6-0 run.

The Thunder were already down 17 when Durant bumped a driving Alec Burks out of bounds, then exchanged words with DeMarre Carroll after drawing the flagrant.

Durant finished with 33 points on 11-of-16 shooting, and Russell Westbrook added 22 points.

Overall it was the type of feisty game expected Thursday when Oklahoma City heads home for an NBA Finals rematch with Miami, which has beaten the

Thunder five straight times going back to June’s title series.

Perhaps the Thunder was looking ahead to that game, though they insisted they weren’t.

Or perhaps they were thinking back on the past four, which they had won by an average margin of 25.3 points.

A fifth straight win by 20 or more would have broken a franchise record.

Instead they suffered their first loss since Feb. 2 at Cleveland.

While Utah’s bigs made a big difference, Jefferson outscoring Perkins 23-4 and Millsap outscoring Serge Ibaka 18-10, Utah got the boost from its bench it needed.

Derrick Favors added 15 points, Burks and Carroll had 13 apiece and Earl Watson finished with six.

After being embarrassed early on by Westbrook, who opened 5 of 5 from the field, Jazz point guard Jamaal Tinsley put Utah up 75-63 with a pair of 3-pointers.

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