Vivint Smart Home Arena was rocking on Saturday night, and the Utah Jazz responded accordingly. With fans sporting red rock inspired shirts, the glowing stands helped Utah to a Game 3 win, taking down the Thunder without much resistance.
In a night where he was facing the triple-double king, RIcky Rubio did his own Russell Westbrook impersonation, finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. He was able to pick up the slack alongside Joe Ingles after Donovan Mitchell found himself in some foul trouble. Rubio dominated the mid-range area from the second quarter on, after the Thunder were beginning to take control of the game. With Utah down 12, he led a 20-4 run to bring them back to life. From there, it was all downhill for the West’s 5 seed.
OKC on the other hand was heading in the opposite direction. In fact, they seemed rather content with getting run out of the gym, something that seems pretty uncharacteristic for a Westbrook-led team. But ask anyone and they’ll tell you that last night we saw the reigning MVP in rare, passive form, something that didn’t bode well for OKC.
Westbrook never found a rhythm last night and simply was not himself. Utah cut off his ability to get to the rim thanks to Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors’ interior presence. More often than not, Westbrook would get caught in mid-air, forcing unnecessary passes that would lead to turnovers. Credit to the Utah defense though, their rotations were tight and effective, as they have been all season long. They’re going to continue to make life difficult for OKC’s catalyst.
Westbrook seemed to think otherwise in regards to how the remainder of the series will go, especially pertaining to Rubio’s performance. “He made some shots. Too comfortable. I’ma shut that s*** off next game though. Guarantee that.”
His passive play certainly trickled down, as Paul George was relatively relaxed on the defensive end. He sagged off Joe Ingles on multiple occasions, eventually leading to corner threes, which for Ingles are automatic.
Russ will need to be much more aggressive in attacking the rim come Game 4. It starts at the top, and for OKC that means their point guard setting the tempo.
- The Thunder were 18/27 from the charity stripe last night.
- OKC had 33 points off turnovers last night, which was good for a franchise record. They took advantage of 19 Utah giveaways.
- Playoff P had 23 points on 7/16 shooting. He didn’t seem to find much rhythm, but was much better than Game 2.
A Look Ahead
Game 4 is Monday night at 9:30 PM CT.