The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Utah Jazz in game 5, 107-99. In a last gasp effort to save their season, Russell Westbrook and Paul George combined to score 79 points, 23 rebounds, 9 assists (because why pass?) and a completely insane comeback to lead the Thunder back into the series. They now trail Utah 3 games to 2, but must head back to Utah where they have yet to show up with enough juice to win. Will this game 5 lead the way to a game 7 back at the ‘Peake?
If you had watched the first 2.5 quarters of game 5, you would have concluded, quite reasonably, that OKC was resigning themselves to the end of the season. Not only were they bad, but they played like they didn’t care. On the opposite bench, Utah was showing every sign that they had completely solved the Thunder on both ends of the court. Nothing OKC was trying to do offensively or defensively bothered them at all, and with 8:34 left in the 3rd, the lead had ballooned to 71-46.
That’s when Westbrook apparently re-created the arc reactor and stuffed it into his chest.
Within 4 minutes he, with the help of a heating up Paul George, shaved 15 points off the lead. With the Thunder finally showing some signs of rupturing the Jazz’ remarkable defense, the duo led a run all the way back to a tie game by the end of the 3rd when Westbrook nailed a deep 3-pointer, knotting the game at 78. It was one of the most abrupt and shocking turnaround recoveries you will ever see, in part because it came out of nowhere by a team rightfully left for dead.
A 4th quarter Westbrook jumper gave the Thunder their first lead since 4:07 in the first quarter, and from there on out the game was a back and forth affair. Yet for the first time since early in game 2, the Jazz offense looked rattled. Donovan Mitchell once again did a great job driving the ball at the rim to keep the game close, but Alex Abrines of all people was challenged to slow him down, and had a measure of success, working within the game plan. His efforts led to this huge sequence:
Alex Abrines swats. Alex Abrines shoots. The roof is about to come off The 'Peake. #ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/GTr9TBEn1C— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) April 26, 2018
Meanwhile, for the first time in this series, Westbrook began finding cracks and seams to drive. His pull-up game, so hesitant and disastrous before, once again became the “cotton shot” that kept the Jazz defense on its heels.
Utah has repeatedly given Russ 14 footers off the PnR. That’s ridiculous pic.twitter.com/N3BSejuVOw— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) April 26, 2018
When Westbrook’s final jumper fell with 1:25 left in the game, OKC had built an 8 point cushion. The Jazz were not done yet, but the shots didn’t fall. Mitchell missed a three, had a layup attempt blocked by George, and when Jae Crowder’s three with 21 seconds left missed the mark, the comeback was complete.
In that enduring stretch of play from 8:32 in the 3rd to 5:43 in the 4th, OKC outscored the Jazz 50-20, with Westbrook scoring 27 and George netting 16. From that point in the 3rd to the end of the game, the Thunder crushed the Jazz, 61-31, and our very own Grenham made perhaps the understatement of the week:
That is quite the run pic.twitter.com/bvRn3swBc8— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) April 26, 2018
I’ve given up trying to understand this team. I kind of feel like Clark Griswold after Cousin Eddie shows up at his house on Christmas Eve.
Is this kind of game repeatable, especially in Utah? I don’t see how. But then again, sometimes you just have to smile and reflect that you just witnessed yet another thing that will go down in Westbrook’s catalog of insanity.