OKLAHOMA CITY (ABC4 Sports) – If the Jazz win Game 6 Friday night, nobody will remember what happened in Game 5.
But if the Thunder come back to win this series, this could go down as one of the worst losses in Utah Jazz history.
Russell Westbrook scored 45 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from 25 points down in the second half to fight off elimination and beat the Utah Jazz 107-99 on Wednesday night.
Westbrook also had 15 rebounds and seven assists. Paul George added 34 points and eight rebounds. No other Oklahoma City player scored more than 7 points.
“A 25-point lead in the NBA is not safe, especially when you’ve got two guys like Russell and Paul George that can do what they did,: said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder. “I thought our struggles on the offensive end impacted our defense.”
“We stopped playing defense,” said Donovan Mitchell, who had 23 points. ” We stopped getting back. The offense got stagnant, they made adjustments and we didn’t make the right adjustments back. We’ll watch the film and figure out what went wrong.”
Utah takes a 3-2 lead back to Salt Lake City for Game 6 on Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Oklahoma City took advantage after Utah’s post players, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, got into foul trouble. Both finished with five fouls, and Oklahoma City was able to get to the basket consistently for the first time in the series.
Jae Crowder had a career playoff-high 27 points for Utah. Donovan Mitchell scored 23 points, and Joe Ingles added 16.
Utah opened the second half on an 8-1 run to go up 64-42, and Crowder’s 3-pointer made it 71-46 with 8:34 left in the third quarter.
Westbrook hit back-to-back 3-pointers, then made a layup with 5:07 left in the third quarter to cut Utah’s lead to 73-60. Gobert picked up his fifth foul with 3:46 left in the third quarter. Westbrook’s 3-pointer tied the game at 78 heading into the fourth quarter. Westbrook scored 20 points in the third quarter.
Westbrook scored immediately at the start of the fourth to finally put the Thunder in front. Back-to-back threes by Westbrook and Alex Abrines put Oklahoma City up 96-91, and a jumper by Westbrook with 1:24 left put Oklahoma City up 107-99.
“I was just trying to pick my spots,” Westbrook said. “We got stops when we needed to. I thought our team did a good job of staying together through it all.”
As tough of a loss as this is, the Jazz are confident they will be able to bounce back at home in Game 6 Friday night.
“We can sit here and be upset in that locker, or we can go and watch it and fix what we’ve done all series,” said Joe Ingles, who score 16 points. “After Game 1, we had no chance of winning the series at all. Everyone wrote us off after that. Nobody thought we were going to make the playoffs in September either. So, we’ll go watch the film like we’ve done all year, the same routine we’ve done when we were up 3-1.”
“It’s on us,” said Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio, who had 10 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. “We need to do a better job. Of course, you have to give them credit, they made a lot of shots and forced a Game 6. But we’re going home, we’ve got to be strong with confidence.”