The Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz battled in Salt Lake City in Game 4 of their first round series on Monday night. Donovan Mitchell scored 33 points as the Jazz defeated the Thunder 113-96 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.
OKC came out strong in the first quarter, with Russell Westbrook playing aggressive on both ends, getting into the paint and playing disruptive defense on Ricky Rubio. Steven Adams was also a big part of the offense early on, getting easy buckets off of Westbrook’s penetration. The Thunder offense was flowing nicely and they put up 30 points in the first quarter.
OKC maintained control through the early stages of the second quarter, but the Jazz managed to stay within striking distance. The momentum changed when Westbrook picked up his 3rd foul with 7:25 left in the half. Despite the foul, he would remain in the game. The Thunder defense began to slowly lose intensity, and Mitchell and Rudy Gobert began to take advantage, finding easy baskets around the rim.
The game was tied at 43 after a dunk from Gobert, which would begin a short-lived back-and-forth affair. Carmelo Anthony hit a shot to give the Thunder the lead, Mitchell tied the game at 45, Adams gave the Thunder the lead back, Rubio tied the game at 47, Westbrook nailed a jumper to give the Thunder the lead again, and then Ingles nailed a three to give the Jazz the lead. The pace was rising, and Westbrook tried to blow past Rubio, but ran him over for an offensive foul. The foul was Westbrook’s fourth and that completely changed the remainder of the game. The Jazz outscored OKC 8-3 to close the half and took a 58-52 into the break.
OKC came out of halftime extremely flat. The Jazz immediately scored the first nine points of the half and built a 15 point lead. The Thunder offense was horrendous for the remainder of the game. They were forced into heavily contested long twos and threes, and then each time the Thunder tried to get inside, Gobert was there to block or alter shots. Melo seemed to lose all confidence in his shot and looked to be begging for his shots to fall, which they never did. Westbrook was not much of a factor on either end due to his foul trouble. George saw some shots fall, but it was far from enough..
The Jazz’s lead ballooned to 21, thanks to getting stops defensively, and hot shooting on offense. Mitchell continued to break down the Thunder defense, Joe Ingles was able to nail wide-open threes, and Rubio was solid all around. Gobert and Derrick Favors used their size to bully the Thunder inside. The game did get chippy as technical fouls were handed out to eight players. Jae Crowder was ejected after an elbow to Adams, Ingles and George continued to bicker all game, Westbrook got into it with Gobert. Multiple scuffles broke out throughout the second half. In the end, The Jazz took care of business at home and now have a 3-1 in this series.
The Thunder struggled offensively, shooting 39% from the field, and only hitting just 5/26 from deep. They were only able to dish out nine assists while turning the ball over 14 times. They scored 42 points in the paint and hit 25 of 30 free throws. The difficulty finding good offense in the half court continues to be the achilles heel for OKC.
George was the only consistent piece of offense for the Thunder, scoring 32 points on 9-of-21 shooting. Westbrook scored 23 points (7-of-18 shooting), 14 rebounds, and just 3 assists. Melo continued to struggle, finishing with 11 points, but shot only 5-of-18. The Thunder bench scored 18 points.
Mitchell led the Jazz with 33 points as he continues to impress in his first playoff series. Ingles scored 20 points and nailed five three pointers. Gobert scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, along with 10 rebounds. Rubio pitched in 13 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds. Favors also contributed double-digits, scoring 13.
The Thunder face elimination on Wednesday night, as the series shifts back to Oklahoma City for Game 5.