The Thunder (38-20) and Jazz (32-26) had themselves an instant classic on Friday night in Oklahoma City, combining for 295 points and two overtimes in front of a sellout crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena. In a wild game that featured 21 ties and 23 lead changes, Paul George finally shut the door on the nearly 3-hour contest with a driving floater over Rudy Gobert with less than a second remaining in double-OT. The bucket gave him 45 points on the night (his seventh 40-point game of his season), with 25 coming in the fourth quarter and two overtime periods. The victory clinched the season series over Utah in dramatic fashion, giving OKC the advantage should the tie-breaker become important come playoff time.
Along with George’s 45, Russell Westbrook packed the stat sheet with 43 points (15/29 FG, 6/13 3P), 15 rebounds, and eight assists in an ultra-effective performance before fouling out in the first overtime. Though he failed to continue his historic streak of triple-doubles, Westbrook shot very well from the floor and beyond the arc, as he and George became just the fourth pair of teammates in the last 25 years to score 40 points in the same game. It’s also worth noting that both of Westbrook’s season-high scoring efforts have come in his last two outings.
The superstar duo was joined in double-figures by Jerami Grant (18), Steven Adams (16), and Terrance Ferguson (12) — who also fouled out late. The Thunder shot 18-of-44 (40.9%) from long distance as a team, and held a 27-14 advantage in fast break scoring. More importantly, they found a way to win a game that certainly could have gone the other direction. A lot of big plays were made down the stretch — from Grant’s block at the end of regulation, to Abdel Nader canning important threes in the clutch, the Thunder stuck together and pulled it out.
Four players scored at least 20 points for Utah, led by Donovan Mitchell’s 38 on 14-of-35 shooting. The Jazz knocked down 18 threes, out-rebounded OKC 60-43, and scored 29 second-chance points off 14 offensive rebounds — a recipe that usually results in success. However, the Thunder forced Utah into 25 turnovers and fought back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to send it to overtime. From there, it was simply too much PG13.
Paul George: 45 pts, 9 reb, 7 ast, 17/31 FG, 5/13 3P
Russell Westbrook: 43 pts, 15 reb, 8 ast, 2 stl, 15/29 FG, 6/13 3P
Markieff Morris. The new guy made his Thunder debut (what a first game, huh?) and logged 17 minutes off the bench. While he displayed some of that attitude fans will adore, he shot just once and failed to score (though he was a +1, which is good). Perhaps most notable from Morris’ debut was the complete absence of Patrick Patterson. I expected Keef to slowly take those minutes over the remaining 25 games, but with a DNP tonight, it looks like 2Pat’s days in the rotation are done.
Issues Remain. No one likes a Debbie Downer, but like I wrote yesterday here on Daily Thunder dot com, this Thunder defense has some correcting to do. Giving up 147 isn’t a huge deal when there are two overtimes involved, but the damage Utah was able to do on the offensive glass looked like it would break OKC’s back on a number of occasions. Too many of those, resulting in too many second-chance points for the Jazz, and too many instances of Thunder players getting out of place and discombobulated. Teams are going to continue doing this and it needs to be addressed.
See You Later. Though the Thunder won a 2-OT nail biter and deserve a breather, there will be no time for such activities. The Kings are in OKC for a Saturday showdown, which could present a problem for the Thunder considering yesterday’s game lasted until today, you know? PG logged a team-high 50 minutes, which is longer than the combined amount of time I’ve ran in the past two years. Adams (47), Russ (43), and Grant (41) also got an extraordinary amount of playing time, so fatigue may be the biggest obstacle in the way of starting 2-0 after the break.
Just the Good Stuff: Here are highlights from the two overtimes if you want to discuss this game with friends without watching the first 48 minutes: