Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated for the second time this year the Utah Jazz, 107-106 the final score.
From tip-off, this game has been a battle. Every Utah’s run was responded quickly by Oklahoma City in the first half. In the third quarter, after being down nine points (79-70) with five minutes to go, Paul George led the Thunder to a 23-2 run to close the quarter. George was playing out of his mind and has been unstoppable. Oklahoma City took a twelve points lead into the last twelve minutes. However, little by little, the Jazz were able to cut the disadvantage to only two points, with seven seconds on the clock, the ball in Mitchell’s hand with the chance to tie or win the game. The second-year player crossed Paul George over, attacked the rim for an open dunk, but Westbrook was fast enough to stop him with a block which was called a foul with 1.5 seconds left. Donovan missed the first free-throw and by mistake scored the second one. Adams took a quick inbound, and the game was over.
With last night’s win, the Oklahoma City Thunder are now tied with the Denver Nuggets for the first place in the Western Conference, 21-10 the current record.
- Paul George
The last time Paul George played in Utah it did not end well. The Thunder’s small forward finished the game shooting 2-16 with Oklahoma City eliminated from the playoffs. Yesterday, it was Paul George redemption. He played another outstanding game on both ends of the floor, and his final stat line just confirms how good he has been: forty-three points (15-25 FG, 5-10 3PT, 8-10 FT), fourteen rebounds, six assists, five steals, one block, and only three turnovers. Another MVP performance.
- Russell Westbrook
Once again Russell Westbrook struggled with his shooting. He finished the game 3-17 from the floor, 0-4 from behind the arc, and 2-2 from the line for a total of eight points. However, he definitely contributed in other ways: his defense was good, he still had teammates involved, and somehow with his sixth foul he saved the game for Oklahoma City. Westbrook his going through a tough time on the basketball court right now, probably he is still recovering from the ankle injury, maybe it’s a mental issue or a bit of both, one thing is certain: he will be back, and this team might take it to the next level.
- Jerami Grant
Grant played an excellent first quarter where he scored thirteen points and kept the Thunder close to a hot Utah team. He then cooled off and scored only two points for the remainder of the game. Also, I thought his defense wasn’t so great last night. He was caught watching the ball a few times, and his defender scored easily on backdoor cuts.
- Team effort
I thought all the players tried their best in order to win last night. Obviously, Paul George has been the main actor, but everyone stepped in, from starters to bench players, everyone added a little bit. Despite the bench didn’t score much, they defended well, Dennis contributed, as usual, Diallo has been the classic bust of energy, Abrines hit a couple of threes, Patterson was OK as well as Noel.
- Free Throws
The team’s most struggle remains the free throw line. Last night in Utah, the Thunder finished with a very below average percentage from the line, 63% (14-22), and it almost cost them the game. With two minutes to go the Thunder were leading by three points, and Adams went 1-2 from the free throw line. After two good defensive stops, Grant goes to the line with 1.24 left and the chance to increase the lead to six points: he goes 0-2. Luckily for Oklahoma City, the free-throw was fatal for Utah with Mitchell missing the chance, right from the line, to send the game to overtime.
Tonight, the Oklahoma City Thunder will play against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tip-off 7 pm CT.
Photos by Melissa Majchrzak