Russell Westbrook recorded 45 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder recovered from a 25-point, third-quarter deficit to stay alive in their first-round play series by posting a 107-99 victory over the visiting Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. Paul George added 34 points and eight rebounds as Oklahoma City cut Utah's lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2.
The Thunder trailed by 25 with 8:34 left in the third quarter before exploding on a 32-7 burst to tie the score at 78 entering the final stanza. Oklahoma City then controlled the fourth quarter. Jae Crowder made six 3-pointers and had 27 points and eight rebounds for the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell tallied 23 points, Joe Ingles had 16, Rudy Gobert added 11 points and 10 rebounds and Ricky Rubio had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Game 6 is Friday at Salt Lake City. Westbrook scored 33 points in the second half, and George had 21 after the break. "Regardless of what is going on in the game, you have to give yourself a chance to win, and I thought our guys did a good job of that tonight," Westbrook said. "They did an amazing job of sticking together. ... "This series is all about momentum changes."
Oklahoma City held a three-point lead before George drained a 3-pointer to boost the lead to 105-99 with 2:05 left. Westbrook hit a jumper 41 seconds later to make it an eight-point margin and all but seal it. The Jazz led by 15 at halftime and quickly grew the advantage to 71-46 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Crowder.
"A 20-point lead in the NBA is not safe, (and) especially against guys like Russell Westbrook and Paul George," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, according to the Tulsa World. Oklahoma City came to life with Gobert on the bench with four fouls and got back into the contest with a 22-3 push. Gobert re-entered during the burst and lasted just 81 seconds before picking up an offensive foul for No. 5 and heading right back to the bench.
The Thunder were down by eight after Mitchell's basket with 1:47 remaining in the third, but Westbrook drained two 3-pointers during an 8-0 closing run, including the tying one with 35.9 seconds left. Westbrook scored a basket to open the fourth quarter to give Oklahoma City an 80-78 lead. Utah led 91-90 after Gobert's dunk with 6:36 remaining before Westbrook and Alex Abrines buried 3-pointers to give the Thunder a five-point lead with 5:52 to play. Westbrook's jumper gave Oklahoma City a 102-95 lead with 3:41 left before Mitchell scored back-to-back baskets to get Utah back within three.
Crowder had 17 points and Ingles added 14 in the first half as the Jazz held a 56-41 lead at the break. Crowder scored 15 points -- making four 3-pointers -- over the final 4:38 of the opening period as Utah took a 34-29 lead. The Jazz used an 11-2 surge in the second quarter to open up a 52-37 lead on Gobert's dunk with 3:23 remaining.