SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 22 points and the Oklahoma City strengthened their hopes of reaching the play-in tournament with a 114-98 victory over the short-handed Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

“We were aware of the situation. We are aware that we can control our own destiny,” Gilgeous-Alexander said.

Josh Giddey had 17 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, while Aaron Wiggins scored 15 for the Thunder, who snapped a three-game losing streak. They are 10th in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of Dallas, and are guaranteed to reach the play-in by beating Memphis in their finale Sunday.

“If we win, we’re in,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I’m excited, a great opportunity. If you asked me if I wanted to be in this position at the beginning of the year, I’d say yes.”

Kris Dunn had 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Jazz, who were eliminated from postseason contention.

“It’s a hard moment to know that you’re out. But, again, I don’t think our team should walk out of here or think about this season in any other way than with their heads up and their shoulders pulled back with a lot of pride,” Utah coach Will Hardy said.

The Jazz played a 1-3-1 zone that flustered Oklahoma City in the first half, but the Thunder attacked it with patience later on and got plenty of open looks.

With most of their shooters on the bench with injuries, the Jazz made a season-low five 3-pointers on 31 attempts.

When the Jazz trimmed the lead to 75-74, Gilgeous-Alexander scored the first seven of a 19-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to take command of the game.

“With guys out, they had some players that seemed uncertain so we were able to read some of those plays,” said Wiggins, who had three steals as the Thunders converted 19 Utah turnovers into 26 points.

Kelly Olynyk, who had 16 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, and Dunn were the only Utah players available averaging 10 or more points.

“Ten years in this league, I’ve played in the playoffs and been to the Finals. That’s what it’s about. … Obviously, it’s a ((lousy) feeling being officially eliminated,” Olynyk said.

Jordan Clarkson (finger), Rudy Gay (back), Talen Horton-Tucker (ankle), Walker Kessler (concussion) and Lauri Markkanen (hand) were all injured. Even Collin Sexton, who returned after missing 18 games with a strained hamstring Tuesday against the Lakers, sat out.

“I think it’s easy when teams are sitting their best players to relax and take it easy, but I think tonight we were ready from the jump,” Giddey said.

Both teams had modest expectations this season but have chalked up surprising wins along the way and stayed competitive in most games.

The Thunder are still very young but further down the rebuilding road than the Jazz and have 2022 No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren returning next season. The Jazz have a bevy of draft picks in the coming years to similarly build back toward contention.

The Thunder led by as many as 16 in the first half before the Jazz closed the second quarter on a 10-0 run to cut the lead to 55-52 after the second of Olynyk’s two three-point plays in the surge.

“We didn’t necessarily have our fastball tonight but I thought we showed good poise and resilience through the ups and downs of the game,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. “It’s a great opportunity for a young team as a lot of our experiences are new experiences we can grow from.” TIP-INS

Thunder: Despite playing without anyone over 6-foot-8 for much of the game, the Thunder gathered 17 offensive rebounds. … OKC shot 26 free throws to Utah’s 16. … Dario Saric had a season-high two blocks, his first rejections since coming from Phoenix in a Feb. 9 trade.

Jazz: Juan Toscano-Anderson fell hard just before the end of the third quarter and left the court holding his right elbow, but came back to play in the fourth. … Utah outscored Oklahoma City 36-16 in the paint in the first half. … The inexperienced Jazz had 19 turnovers, including seven by Olynyk who was forced to play the point.


Thunder: Finish the regular season at home Sunday against Memphis.

Jazz: Host Denver on Saturday.

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