UTAH JAZZ

Conley Returns, Jazz Clinch Share Of Top Record With Win Over Thunder

May 14, 2021, 9:09 PM | Updated: May 15, 2021, 10:43 am
Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles against the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)...
Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles against the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 109-93, winning their second to last game of the regular season before heading to Sacramento on Sunday.

With the win, the Jazz maintain control of their own destiny, as a win over the Kings on the final night of the season would guarantee the Jazz the top seed in the West, and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 22 points, while the team welcomed guard Mike Conley back after missing the last nine games with a hamstring injury.

The Thunder were led by reserve Svi Mykhailiuk who scored 19 points in just 26 minutes against the Jazz.

Conley Returns For Jazz Against Thunder

The Jazz saw All-Star guard Mike Conley return to the floor in the runaway victory over the Thunder.

The All-Star guard started for the Jazz and played 16 first-half minutes before resting over the final two-quarters of the game.

Conley gave the Jazz productive minutes while he was on the floor, scoring 10 points on 2-7 shooting, but earned six trips to the free-throw line while handing out three assists and grabbing two rebounds. In typical Conley fashion, the Jazz outscored Oklahoma City by 10 points in his limited minutes.

Despite his production, the guard admitted he was winded after his first-half minutes.

“The first game, I’m working myself up, I’m just so excited,” Conley said. “It was like literally just do 1,000 squats and 1,000 lunges just getting ready for the game, and find out that I’ve just worn myself out before I even get out there.”

Despite working himself up for game one, the guard said he expects to have better energy on Sunday against the Kings.

“Once I get through the first game, the second game I feel pretty good.”

Conley wasn’t the only player happy about his return to the court. After the game Jazz center Rudy Gobert discussed what the veteran guard means to the team ahead of the playoffs.

“He’s so smart, his decision-making is so good that he just creates shots for everybody,” Robert said. “For me, it’s just a matter of getting open on the screen and giving him a little advantage and then he’s able to pick the defensive apart.”

Jazz Cut Magic Number To One

With the win, the Jazz magic number to clinch the top spot in the West sits at just one. The Jazz control their own destiny playing their final game of the season on Sunday in Sacramento against the Kings who were eliminated from playoff contention on Friday night with their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Jazz could get help from the Spurs either tomorrow or Sunday before they tip-off Sunday evening should the San Antonio beat the Suns in either of two back-to-back games over the weekend.

The NBA hesitated to announce the game times for Sunday, the final day of the season, hoping to prevent teams from restings starters once playoff seeding has already been determined.

However, the Jazz will get the benefit of knowing whether they have to win on Sunday to clinch the top seed as the league announced their matchup with Sacramento would tip-off at 7 pm while the Suns will start their final game of the regular season on Sunday at noon.

But while the Kings won’t be playing for anything other than lottery positioning, the Spurs won’t have any reason to run their star players out against the Suns.

With the Kings’ loss Friday, the Spurs locked themselves into the 10th and final seed in the Western Conference.

The Spurs are locked into the play-in tournament and will have to win two games on the road beginning in either Golden State or Memphis to clinch the eighth seed in the West.

Regardless of the outcomes between the Suns and Spurs this weekend, the Jazz have put themselves in the enviable positioning of controlling their own playoff seeding destiny heading into the final game of the season.

Jazz Clinch Share Of Best Record In NBA

Though the Jazz have yet to clinch the best record in the West, they have locked up at least a share of the best record in the NBA at the season’s end with the win over Oklahoma City.

The Jazz have now won 51 Games which is equal to the maximum number of wins the Suns could reach by sweeping the Spurs this weekend.

It marks only the third time in franchise history that the Jazz will reach the mark, tying the 62 win team that made the NBA Finals in 1998, and the 1999 team that won 37 games in the lockout-shortened season.

The Jazz have never won the best record in the NBA outright but did hold home-court advantage throughout the postseason in ’98 after sweeping the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls two games to zero in the regular season.

On Friday night, the Philadelphia 76ers clinched the Eastern Conference regular-season title with a 122-97 victory over the Orlando Magic, earning their 49th win of the season.

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