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Dillon Jones takes the spotlight as OKC Thunder rout Utah Jazz 98-75

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Jul 9, 2024

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

Oklahoma City's Dillon Jones (3) scores while Utah Jazz forward Kyle Filipowski (22) commits a foul during an NBA summer league game Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Monday night, Dillon Jones and the Thunder were the undercard to the Jazz's nightcap, overtime victory in the Utah-hosted SLC Summer League at the Delta Center.

Oklahoma City took the primetime slot Tuesday night against the Jazz on Day 2 of the three-day event, and the former Weber State star had the spotlight in front of a big crowd.

With 7:15 left in the second quarter, Jones probed the lane against Utah 2023 draft pick Brice Sensabaugh, then retreated with no clear play available.

Sensabaugh clapped at Jones as he smilingly followed him out to the perimeter, so Jones metaphorically clapped back, rising to swish a 30-foot 3-pointer over the Jazz guard (and taking the opportunity to say a few words as they shuffled to the other end of the court).

That gave Jones 15 points in the first 10 1/2 minutes of the game.

BRETT HEIN, Standard-Examiner

Oklahoma City's Dillon Jones takes a selfie with a fan's phone, drawing attention from a line of kids in Salt Lake City after the Thunder defeated the Jazz in an NBA summer league game Tuesday, July 9, 2024, at the Delta Center.

Oklahoma City led by as many as 23 in the first half and grew that to 26 in the fourth quarter, ultimately defeating the Jazz 98-75.

Jones finished with a game-high 21 points on 6-of-7 field goal shooting, going 3 of 3 from downtown and 4 of 5 at the foul line in the first half alone. He added seven rebounds, four assists and one steal in 24 minutes.

"He wants to win, he's about the team, impacts the game in a lot of ways," said Kam Woods, OKC's summer league head coach. "He's done a nice job of just picking his spots whether he's on the ball, off the ball, being a playmaker for us on both ends of the floor.

"I thought he did a better job of just trusting the pass and being ready to play when the ball found him."

After the overtime win against Zach Edey and Memphis on Monday night, Utah shut down Keyonte George and Walker Kessler, who each logged main-rotation minutes for the Jazz last season. (Edey, the towering center from Purdue, also sat in the Grizzlies' game earlier Tuesday against Philadelphia, a game Memphis won at the buzzer.)

So the Jazz were led by 18 points apiece from Sensabaugh and Kenneth Lofton Jr., and 10 from Jason Preston -- all mainstays for the Salt Lake City Stars last season.

No. 10 overall pick Cody Williams also got more playing time for the Jazz, totaling seven points on 3-for-10 shooting in 29 minutes.

The other first-half highlight for Jones was his left-to-right crossover that left Utah second-rounder Kyle Filipowski in his wake, leading Filipowski to foul Jones for a three-point play.

Jones closed his performance with an excellent two-for-one sequence to end the third quarter.

He pulled down a rebound on a Max Abmas miss with 38 seconds left and, seven seconds later, got into the paint and banked in a 10-foot floater. Jones then got the ball back in his hands on another Utah miss, pushed up the court and dished to Cormac Ryan for a corner 3 to end the frame.

Jones finished a plus-20 in the plus-minus ledger.

"Dillon Jones hasn't made many mistakes tonight. 6 of 7, and his two turnovers pale in comparison to the countless reads he's made," posted Joel Lorenzi, Thunder beat writer for The Oklahoman, at the end of the third quarter. "Pretty, pretty good."

Ousmane Dieng scored 20 points for OKC and second-rounder Ajay Mitchell totaled 11 points and 10 assists.

SLC Summer League concludes Wednesday with Oklahoma City facing Memphis at 5 p.m. and the Jazz playing the 76ers at 7 p.m.

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