The Oklahoma City Thunder came into tonight’s game vs the Jazz riding a two game winning streak, while Utah had won six straight. The Thunder, trailing by 12 heading into the fourth quarter, outscored the Jazz 32-14 to take a 100-94 victory on Tuesday night for their 3rd straight victory.
The Thunder offense struggled mightily in the first half, only scoring 39 points. There just was not many opportunities in the paint for the Thunder and they continued to force up long twos and contested threes. Russell Westbrook was the only guy that seemed to have it going offensively in the first half. Carmelo Anthony and Paul George combined for 3 of 13 shooting in the half.
In the 2nd half, the Thunder offense started to pickup largely in part to Westbrook's pace. When Westbrook is pushing the ball at Ricky Rubio, there is no hope for Rubio to contain him, which forced the entire Jazz defense to react. Westbrook pushing the pace creates so many opportunities for himself and for every guy in a Thunder uniform.
After only scoring 39 points in the first half, the Thunder rebounded in the second half with 61. Even then, the Thunder trailed by as many as 17 in the second half and then as if a light switch went off the Thunder turned it around in the 4th quarter.
George connected on a three to bring the Thunder within seven at 82-75, and he was then fouled on a three point attempt and made 2 out of 3 free throws to bring them within one. Donovan Mitchell hit a three to give the Jazz some breathing room, but the Thunder offense was clicking and they answered right away.
Melo was quiet in the first three quarters but made his presence felt late in the game, scoring 2 late baskets to bring the Thunder within one possession. George made a stepback jumper to bring the score to 87-86, and Westbrook gave the Thunder the lead with a blow-by layup.
The Jazz snatched the lead back after an and-1 layup converted by Alec Burks. George answered with an and-1 layup of his own. The Thunder defense continued to make it tough for the Jazz, and big plays from Melo and a tip-in from Steven Adams sealed the game for the Thunder.
The Thunder shot 48% from the field and won the rebound battle 46-35. They also won the points in the paint battle 58-40. The Thunder defense also forced 18 turnovers and scored 18 points off the Jazz giveaways.
Westbrook had a monster triple-double with 33 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds. George scored 21 points (18 in the 2nd half) on 7-of-13 shooting. Adams scored 20 points with 9 rebounds. Melo pitched in 14 points and some big baskets down the stretch.
The efforts of Andre Roberson tonight CANNOT be overlooked. We often fail to appreciate what he brings to this team defensively due to his offensive limitations. However, the Thunder do not win this game if it wasn't for Roberson's defense on Mitchell in the 4th quarter especially. He forced Mitchell into contested jumpers, blocked his layup attempts, and forced Mitchell to 3 turnovers.
Mitchell led the Jazz with 31 points along with 5 three pointers. Ingles pitched in 16 points and 4 threes.
The Thunder return to action on the road Thursday night against the Brooklyn Nets.