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Jazz Squash Thunder, Take 2-1 Series Lead in Utah


The Thunder got off to a decent start on Saturday night in Salt Lake City, taking a 30-22 lead after the first quarter of action. Unfortunately for Oklahoma City, things went directly downhill from there.

Riding the hot hand of Ricky Rubio (who finished with a 26-11-10 triple-double), Utah blitzed the Thunder after the first 12 minutes of basketball. The Jazz exploded for a 36-point second quarter, using a 25-8 run to close the frame and take a 58-53 advantage at the break. Even still, the descent had just begun for OKC.

Things went from bad to worse in the third quarter, as the Jazz continued their offensive onslaught against a Thunder team incapable of getting anything going. Paul George and Russell Westbrook combined to shoot just 2-of-10 in the frame, while Steven Adams was again mired in foul trouble. The life was sucked out of OKC when Rubio hit a buzzer-beating three to end the quarter, giving the Jazz a 14-point advantage with 12 minutes remaining.

Despite George’s best efforts in the opening part of the fourth, Utah’s lead ballooned to 20 and removed any hopes of a Thunder comeback. Westbrook did not score a point — or even attempt a field goal — in the final quarter, and the Thunder starters were pulled with 2:20 remaining. All in all, Utah was able to walk away with a comfortable 115-102 victory.


George led the way for OKC with 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting. Westbrook added 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists but turned it over 8 times. All five Jazz starters scored in double-figures, led by Rubio’s 26, Donovan Mitchell’s 22, and 21 from Joe Ingles. Rudy Gobert was again a monster, contributing 18 points and 12 rebounds — also completely disrupting everything the Thunder tried offensively.

Utah has taken a 2-1 series lead ahead of Monday’s Game 4 in Salt Lake City. The Thunder will need to take that contest in order to regain home-court advantage.


47.4: The Thunder made 47.4 of its shot attempts. Unfortunately, Utah made 52.5 percent.

50: OKC hit 14-of-28 from long distance, good for 50 percent. Utah shot 13-of-34, 38.2 percent.

66.7: The Thunder went 18-of-27 from the free throw line, a paltry 66.7 percent.

-15: Utah won 48-33 on the glass, including 13-6 on the offensive end.

-11: The Jazz turned their offensive rebounding into a 19-8 advantage in second-chance points.  A killer yet again.

17 & 17: OKC had 17 assists and 17 turnovers.

19 & 33: Utah won despite turning it over 19 times, resulting in 33 points for the Thunder. It was the most points ever generated off turnovers in the Thunder’s postseason history.

-4: Utah won 40-36 in the paint.

+17: Thunder reserves outscored the Jazz bench 34-17.

6 & 4: There were six lead changes and four ties.

Bad Russ

Russell Westbrook had his worst game of the series, turning in a performance that just won’t ever lead to a Thunder victory. His final line:

14 pts, 11 reb, 9 ast, 2 stl, 8 TO, 5/17 FG, 1/4 3P, -25

He was again thoroughly outplayed by Rubio, and the presence of Gobert continues to discombobulate the reigning MVP. He can’t buy a bucket at the rim and appeared to give up trying at a certain point. He was just 1-of-6 after the halftime break and didn’t attempt a field goal in the fourth quarter. His -25 was worst on the team.

Slick Rick

Ricky Rubio was lights out yet again for Utah, finishing with a triple-double and scoring 20+ points for the second straight game. His final line:

26 pts, 11 reb, 10 ast, 2 stl, 9/18 FG, 2/9 3P, +22

He cooled off from long distance but was still able to wreak havoc on the Thunder defense. He’s now outplayed Wesbtrook in back-to-back contests, a trend that will end OKC’s season if it continues.


Playoff P. It was a bounce-back effort of sorts for Paul George, as he finished with 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting. He found a bit of rhythm to open the fourth quarter but was quickly put to rest by a Jazz team that wanted it more.

Melo. 14 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals for Melo. He shot 6-of-10 from the floor, 2-of-4 from long range, and wasn’t a black hole offensively. He didn’t make the plays necessary to win the game, but it was probably his best effort of the series.

Big Steve. Steven Adams finished with 8 points and 2 rebounds, shooting 4-of-6 from the floor and posting a -2 in 26 minutes. He spent most of the night in foul trouble and watched as Rudy Gobert continued to impact the series in ways the Thunder’s big man just hasn’t thus far.

Thunder Bench. OKC wasted a good effort from the reserves. Raymond Felton scored 14 points and Jerami Grant added 7. Patrick Patterson — who filled in for Adams in the first half — was able to draw Gobert out of the lane and open things up. He finished with 8 points on 3-of-3 shooting.

The Other Guys. Five Jazz scored in double-figures: Rubio (26), Mitchell (22), Ingles (21), Gobert (18), and Derrick Favors (11).