Thunder win after thrilling OT, Jazz KO: Five Thoughts
By: Alberto Bodei, Staff writer
Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Utah Jazz after an incredible game that ended after two overtimes, 148-147 the final score.
Paul George and Russell Westbrook lead the Thunder to an incredible win over the Utah Jazz in what can be called “the game of the year”.
Every time these two teams meet a show come out. Back on December 22nd, the Thunder won in Utah by one point, 107-106 but the game last night was even more thrilling.
After a good first half for the Thunder, 66-57 the score at the long break, the Jazz took a two points lead by the end of the third quarter. Utah tried to run away in the fourth quarter gaining a ten points lead with eight minutes to go, but this OKC team never gives up. The Thunder will come all the way back to force the overtime thanks to an “and-1” play by Grant to tie the game 129-129.
In the first overtime, both teams exchanged shots and neither team was able to take an important lead. While the score was tied to end also the first extra time, the biggest take away has been Russell Westbrook fouling out with one minute left to play. Westbrook was playing an incredible game, so with him being out for the remainder of the contest, the Thunder looked in trouble. Wrong. The second overtime has been another exclamation point on Paul George candidacy for MVP.
With the Thunder trailing 147-146 and the clock running out in the second overtime, Paul George first beat Ingles and then shot a teardrop over Gobert to give the Thunder a one-point lead with 0.8 seconds left to play. The Jazz will go ahead and miss the final shot which gave the Thunder a 3-0 record against Utah this season.
Paul George, MVP
Not only Paul George hit the game winner, but he had an overall great performance. His final stat-line speak for itself: forty-five points (17-31 FG, 5-13 3PT, 6-6 FT), nine rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and zero turnovers in fifty minutes of playing time. This is an excellent performance. Against Utah, George was also important on the defensive end of the floor. His defense is always solid, and last night he made another point on being the best two-way player in the league.
Russell Westbrook, leader
Russell Westbrook might have fouled out in the first overtime, but he, as well as Paul George, played one of his best games of the season. Westbrook finished the game with forty-three points (15-29 FG, 6-13 3PT, 7-10 FT), fifteen rebounds, eight assists, two steals, one block, and five turnovers. This is the first time since 2017 then Russell Westbrook has back to back forty plus points game. Also, it’s the first time since 2015 that two Thunder’s players finished a game with forty plus points (Durant and Westbrook back then).
Paul George and Russell Westbrook will get all the headlines for the win, but it’s important to remember that also the secondary players in the starting lineup had an impactful game. Steven Adams finished with sixteen points, ten rebounds, three assists, five steals, and one black. Jerami Grant added eighteen points (3-4 from behind the arc), three blocks, and two steals, while Terrance Ferguson scored twelve points.
Second Unit, work in progress
With the addition of Markieff Morris, the Thunder added an important piece in their rotation. Obviously, last night Morris looked lost most of the time, on both ends of the floor, but with time he will only get better. Markieff’s addition probably means no more minutes for Patrick Patterson as we saw last night. Dennis Schröder didn’t play very well last night, as well as the other Thunder’s backups. However, one important takeaway from the second unit is the amount of steals produced: six total steals, only two less than the Jazz’s total.
Tough road ahead, a bright side
The game against the Jazz was the first of many against playoff contender teams from here to the end of the regular season. Oklahoma City needs to play at a high level every single night due to the toughness of the upcoming opponents. If from one side it will require a lot of energy and concentration to do not drop games, on the other side, it will prepare the more inexperienced Thunder’s players mentally for the playoff.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will play tonight, again at home, against the Sacramento Kings. Tip-off 7 pm CT.