OKLAHOMA CITY – Finally, good things are happening for the Thunder.
Reggie Jackson scored 22 points, and Oklahoma City snapped a six-game skid with a 97-82 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
Jeremy Lamb scored 21 points and Serge Ibaka added 20 for the Thunder, who shot 48 percent. Five of the six losses during the skid were by seven points or fewer, and the Thunder were determined to avoid that result again.
"It felt really good to get a win, that's for sure," Thunder forward Nick Collison said. "We've been sticking with it. It was good to see us get rewarded for continuing to grind it out."
Better days might be on the horizon, too. Kevin Durant (broken right foot) and Russell Westbrook (broken right hand) will be reevaluated in the next few days to see if they are ready to return. Durant, the reigning MVP, hasn't played this season, and Westbrook, a three-time All-Star point guard, has played just two games. Without them, the Thunder stumbled out to the worst record in the Western Conference. Now, at least, there is hope.
"The last couple of days in practice, they did some contact things on the court, so that was good," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "That has been progressing over the last couple of weeks."
A return for Westbrook appeared more likely as the Thunder announced Wednesday night that they waived backup point guard Sebastian Telfair.
Gordon Hayward scored 24 points, and Enes Kanter and Trey Burke each added 16 for the Jazz, who lost their fourth straight and matched their lowest point total of the season.
The Thunder shot 53 percent in the first half and led 56-48 at the break, their highest point total before halftime this season. Jackson scored 14 points and Lamb had 13. Hayward scored 14 points in the second quarter to keep the game close.
Ibaka made a 3-pointer with just under 5 minutes left in the third quarter to give the Thunder a 66-58 edge, and Anthony Morrow drained one a few minutes later to push Oklahoma City's lead to 13. The Thunder took a 74-62 lead into the fourth quarter.
Kendrick Perkins missed a free throw, but he got the rebound and found Morrow for a 3-pointer that extended the lead to 95-75 with just under four minutes to play.
"I don't want to say they were desperate, but they clearly were hungry, and I don't think we were ready for that," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
Thunder: F Mitch McGary (left foot fracture) and F Perry Jones (right knee contusion) both are still out. McGary has not played since the preseason and Jones missed his 11th consecutive game. ... Lamb scored eight points in the last 1:02 of the first quarter to help the Thunder take a 31-29 lead at the end of the period. ... F Collison was issued a technical foul for making excessive contact with Joe Ingles in the second quarter.
Jazz: G/F Rodney Hood missed his 10th straight game with right foot inflammation. ... The Jazz squandered a 10-point lead in the first quarter. ... Hayward scored 16 points in the first half, and would have had more, but the 86 percent free throw shooter missed 5 of 10 from the line before the break.
Lamb, had made 11 of 37 shots the previous five games and had seen his minutes dwindle since Andre Roberson returned to the rotation. Lamb made 7 of 8 against the Jazz in 24 minutes before fouling out.
The Jazz cut the Thunder's lead to nine on a layup by Derrick Favors with 6:49 remaining in the fourth quarter, but Lamb responded with a 3-pointer that sparked a 12-1 run for Oklahoma City.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"It's just the little things," Snyder said. "It's missing free throws, turnovers and negative plays that we have talked about the whole year."
Oklahoma City: Plays host to New York on Friday.
Utah: Plays host to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.