The postseason got off to a rousing start on Sunday night in Oklahoma City, as Paul George and the Thunder secured a 116-108 Game 1 victory over the Utah Jazz. George scored a game-high 36 points on 8-of-11 shooting from long range, breaking the Thunder’s all-time record for three-pointers made in a playoff game. Russell Westbrook contributed 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. Carmelo Anthony added 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks in the victory.
The Jazz overwhelmed the Thunder in the early going, racing out to a 16-4 lead midway through the opening frame. OKC used a quick 12-0 run to knot the game at 16-16 and the teams went back-and-forth en route to a 25-25 tie heading into the second quarter.
George caught fire in the second, shooting 5-of-8 from the floor in the quarter and breaking the game open with his three-point shooting. His 15-foot jumper at the 10:06 mark put the Thunder up 29-28 — a lead OKC would never relinquish. The Thunder took a 54-48 advantage into the break.
The Thunder added to its lead in the third, riding more PG13 to a 9-point advantage after three quarters of basketball. The OKC lead would balloon to as many as 18 in the fourth quarter, as George, Westbrook, and Adams helped put the game on ice. Despite the Jazz making things interesting late — scratching to within 6 in the final minute — the Thunder was able to escape with the 8-point victory.
The win gives the Thunder a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-seven series. Back in action on Wednesday in Oklahoma City for Game 2.
48.2: The Thunder shot 48.2 percent from the floor. Utah hit 47.1 percent of their attempts.
48.2: OKC hit 14-of-29 from long distance, good for 48.2 percent. PG13 buoyed this effort with his 8 makes from downtown.
87: The Thunder went 20-of-23 from the free throw line, 87 percent. Not bad for a team that shot about 71 percent from the stripe in the regular season.
+4: OKC won 46-42 on the boards. It was a 9-9 tie on the offensive glass.
-18: The Jazz won 50-32 in the paint.
17: The Thunder turned the ball over 17 times, resulting in 20 points for the Jazz.
4 & 3: There were four lead changes and three ties.
Paul George lived up to his self-appointed “Playoff P” nickname in Game 1, completely terrorizing the Jazz from the jump. The 5-time All-Star set the Thunder’s all-time mark for three-pointers made in a playoff game with 8 — shooting 13-of-20 from the floor for the evening.
His final stat line and highlights:
36 pts, 7 reb, 13/20 FG, 8/11 3P, +3
George was as active and engaged as we’ve seen from him in his time in a Thunder jersey. If there was ever a moment where elevated play was needed, he picked the perfect time to do it. He was aggressive, passionate, and did a decent amount of trash talking. I think this Playoff P guy is pretty good.
In a bit of bad news, George was off the floor in the game’s closing minutes. It’s now being reported that he’s dealing with a right hip contusion — something to watch ahead of Wednesday’s Game 2.
Russ & Melo
Final stat lines and highlights for Russell Westbrook:
29 pts, 13 reb, 8 ast, 10/25 FG, -1
Westbrook struggled with his shot, going just 10-of-25 from the floor and shooting 0-of-4 from downtown. He routinely bullied Ricky Rubio in the post, something you can expect to continue as the series progresses.
Carmelo Anthony’s stat line:
15 pts, 7 reb, 3 stl, 2 blk, 5/13 FG, 2/7 3P, +1
Not a great night scoring for Melo, but he made a number of timely plays and stuffed the stat sheet in uncharacteristic ways. With George and Westbrook doing most of the heavy lifting, he filled his role really well in this one.
Thunder Bench. It was a great night for the Thunder reserves, even though they were outscored 34-17 by the Jazz bench. Alex Abrines scored 11 points in 21 minutes, Jerami Grant played well in the fourth quarter, and no Thunder reserve finished with a negative net rating. Abrines (+14), Grant (+12), Raymond Felton (+9), Patrick Patterson (+6), and Terrance Ferguson (+3).
Big Steve. Steven Adams finished with a line of 12 points and 7 rebounds, wrapping up his night as a -4. He went 0-of-2 in the first half, then came back and shot 4-of-7 in the second half. Rudy Gobert had 14 points and 7 rebounds in a match-up that should be critical moving forward.
Donovan Mitchell. The rookie was outstanding for the Jazz, scoring 27 points on 11-of-22 shooting. He left the game briefly in the second half with a toe injury. His x-rays were negative and he was able to return.
The Other Guys. Seven Jazz scored in double-figures: Mitchell (27), Gobert (14), Rubio (13), Joe Ingles (13), Jae Crowder (13), Dante Exum (10), and Alec Burks (10). The Thunder seemed most content letting Rubio take open jump shots — he finished with a 5-of-18 shooting effort from the field. You’ll take that.