It was a dramatic finish in Salt Lake City, but the Oklahoma City Thunder was able to withstand a number of runs by the Utah Jazz to come away with a 107-106 win.
To start the game the Thunder and the Jazz battled back and forth, exchanging the lead 7 times in a little over the first 3 minutes of the game, but Utah took over and was in the driver’s seat for quite some time. OKC kept leaving shooters wide open, and the Jazz were 4-11 (36.3%) from 3 in the first quarter. Jerami Grant was the saving grace for the Thunder as he put up 13 points on 5-5 (100%) from the floor, but Utah led OKC 32-26 after 12 minutes.
Utah came out hot in the second quarter, and OKC’s defense was rendered helpless. The Jazz went on a 14-5 run in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the period to take a 46-33 lead. The Thunder could not hit a shot, the defense was doing nothing, and the Jazz were maintaining their lead until all of a sudden, the game took a turn.
The Thunder went on a 16-3 run to take a 54-53 lead for the first time since a few minutes into the game. Utah was able to answer, but OKC stayed right with them, and at the half, the Jazz led the Thunder 61-58.
The Thunder tied it up at 61-61 right out of the gate as Paul George knocked down a three. After a couple of minutes into the game, Utah once again went on a run. This time, the Jazz outscored the Thunder 13-3 to take a 79-70 lead with 5:45 to go in the quarter.
Right on time, OKC hit back with a 12-0 run of their own to take an 82-79 lead with 2:44 left in the third. The Jazz were able to score a single field goal to stop the run, but the Thunder kept going to score the final 11 points of the period, and thanks to Paul George’s 22 third-quarter points, OKC was able to take a 93-81 lead into the final frame of the game.
The Thunder had the game completely in control after the first 3 quarters, but a 10-3 run by the Jazz to start the fourth had Utah within 5 points with 7:50 left in the game. At that point, OKC managed to regain control and take a 9-point lead with just 3:35 left in the game, but the Jazz were not done yet. Slowly, Utah was able to claw back into it, and with just 47 seconds left on the clock, Donovan Mitchell hit a shot to put the Jazz within 2.
After a terrible mess of things which included a bad inbounds pass turned into a steal by Dennis Schröder and an awful three-point attempt by Russell Westbrook, the Jazz had the ball with a chance to win the game. Mitchell once again stepped up to the plate, and this time, he left Paul George in the dust as he drove to the basket for a wide open dunk, but not before Westbrook could make a play on the ball. Westbrook’s block attempt was called as a foul, his sixth of the night, and Mitchell was unable to knock down both free throws, making just one of two, giving the Thunder the 107-106 win.
Thunder Player of the Game
Paul George was able to carry the Thunder to victory once again, something he has done so often as of late, and tonight was no different. George finished the game with 43 points on 15-25 (60.0%) from the floor, including 5-10 (50%) from 3, and 8-10 (80%) from the free throw line, as well as 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 steals. George has worked his way into the MVP conversation lately, and tonight’s performance was just another fine example of why.
The Oklahoma City Thunder heads home to host the Minnesota Timberwolves for the second game of a back-to-back on Sunday evening. This is the first meeting of the season between the two teams, and the Timberwolves have struggled to a 14-18 record, the second-worst in the Western Conference. Tip-off is set for 7 PM, and the game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.