The Oklahoma City Thunder looked dead in the water for three quarters tonight against the Utah Jazz. Trailing by as many as 17 in the third — and down 12 as the fourth quarter began — OKC appeared well on its way to another confusing setback.
Then the team just… woke up.
The Thunder defense clamped down in the final 12 minutes, holding the Jazz to 6/20 shooting. The OKC offense simultaneously flickered to life after an abysmal start — outscoring Utah by a 32-14 margin in the fourth quarter.
Russell Westbrook led the way with his seventh triple-double of the season, keeping the Thunder afloat long enough for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to get involved down the stretch. The OK3 combined to shoot 9/14 in the final frame, pacing the Thunder victory alongside stellar performances from Steven Adams and Andre Roberson.
The Thunder now moves to 11-12 on the season and has won three straight — all of which came in crunch time. Let’s get into the notes.
The First Three Quarters
The Thunder flipped the recent script tonight, opening up the contest with an absolutely anemic offense and watching it come to life late. OKC scored just 39 points, turned it over 14 times and shot 1/9 from downtown in the first half. The defense kept the team within eight at the break, but there were no signs of life on the other side of the basketball.
The third quarter wasn’t much better collectively, as the Jazz outscored OKC 33-29. Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams ran some vintage 2016-17 offense en route to going a combined 8/14 for the Thunder in the quarter — keeping the team within striking distance headed into the final 12 minutes.
Paul George and Carmelo Anthony shot a combined 6/22 in the first three quarters and looked completely disengaged on offense. Down 12 headed into the fourth, it wasn’t promising for the Thunder.
Fourth Quarter Revival
Down 12 to start the fourth, the Thunder used a lineup of Raymond Felton, Roberson, George, Jerami Grant and Patrick Patterson to begin turning the tide. The group started a scoring run that brought OKC within six at the 7:30 mark when Westbrook, Anthony and Adams checked back in. Then, for the first time all night, the OK3 looked like a formidable bunch.
Melo — who entered the fourth quarter shooting just 2/13 — went 4/6 in the frame and hit some shots in pivotal moments. George — who looked well on his way to another disappearing act for three quarters — shot 3/4 from the field and looked effective for the first time in two games. Russell Westbrook — who carried the Thunder offense in the third quarter — deferred to his teammates and looked in command of the attack.
Of course none of the scoring matters if not for the defense, and the Thunder’s fourth quarter effort was sublime. The Jazz shot just 6/20, as OKC contested and pestered its way into allowing very few open looks. Andre Roberson was invaluable in the winning stretch, as he again proved why he deserves to be on the floor when the game hangs in the balance.
All told, OKC combined to shoot 12/21 (57%) in the final 12 minutes and outscored Utah 32-14 to steal the game late. Steven Adams sealed it with a put-back at the 0:43 mark — giving the Thunder a comfortable five point lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Crunch time highlights — via NBA.
OK3 + 2
While Paul George (21 pts) and Carmelo Anthony (14 pts) were solid late in the game, the comeback was set up by Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams and Andre Roberson. Some final stats:
Westbrook: 34 pts, 14 ast, 13 reb, 12/25 FG, 2/9 3P, 7 TO, +14
Adams: 20 pts, 9 reb, 9/10 FG, +9
Roberson: 4 pts, 4 reb, 2 stl, 2/2 FG, +14
Westbrook took control of the team in a third quarter that could have easily put the game out of reach, Steven Adams again had an incredible night from the field, and Andre Roberson was a team-high plus-14. Very big nights for all three men.
Donovan Mitchell. Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points on 11/22 shooting. Roberson made his life difficult in crunch time, blocking a key three-point attempt in the final minutes. Regardless — the kid is very impressive.
King Kiwi. Steven Adams has shot 28/34 over the Thunder’s last three games, averaging 22 points per game across the span. Coincidentally, the Thunder has won three in a row.
- OKC won 46-35 on the boards and held a 58-40 scoring advantage in the paint.
- The Thunder turned it over 19 times — but only five came after halftime.
- OKC shot 4/18 (22%) from downtown. The Jazz hit 11/33 (33.3%).
- Another underwhelming night from the charity stripe — the Thunder hit 18/26 for a 69.2 percent average.
Paul George discusses the win after the game. Via Fox Sports Oklahoma.
Back in action on Thursday night in Mexico City versus the Brooklyn Nets. 9:00 PM CT on Fox Sports Oklahoma.