Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

Paul George on Thunder's Game 5 comeback: 'We knew it wasn't over'

Carmelo Anthony Carmelo Anthony unlikely to opt out of player-option this offseason
| 27 April, 2018, 01:07

And now as then, what we witnessed was dumbfounding.

Ten men received playing time for the Thunder last night.

Certainly the Thunder will want to emulate much of what they did in the third and fourth quarters of Game 5 and erase most of what they did for the greater portion of this series.

Giving up a 25-point advantage with just 20 minutes to play is the only thing - other than a serious injury to a key player - that could have impacted so negatively their 3-1 series lead, on account of the historical dramatics tangled up in the entire deal. After dodging a suspension for his Game 5 antics, Westbrook would finish with 45 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.

This game had all the makings of an OKC self-destruction through two quarters. The fourth foul was too easy for them, and that is on me. Russell Westbrook struggled as Rudy Gobert barricaded the rim, shutting down the Thunder's initial actions.

OKC started the second quarter scoreless for four straight minutes.

But mostly, thanks to Westbrook's obituary-deleting performance. Westbrook ended the ugly, turnover-ridden drought with a nice midranger, but never really got going in the half.

In the eastern conference, a LeBron James block-buzzer beater one-two helped the Cleveland Cavaliers take a 3-2 series lead over the Indiana Pacers, 98-95, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Washington Wizards, and are also now up 3-2.

The smackdown continued after halftime.


HOME COOKING: Utah has won six straight home games, by an average of almost 19 points apiece. The Jazz have out-rebounded the Thunder in four consecutive games, and they have also limited the Thunder to an average of 100 points in their last four games.

Elsewhere, LeBron James capped another milestone night with a buzzer-beating three-pointer that lifted the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 98-95 win over IN and within one win of advancing IN the playoffs.

We'll see now if those 20 disastrous minutes have undone what had been building for three months and three playoff games, time and triumphs that up until now had seemed unsullied and irreproachable.

That's free-agent-to-be Paul George.

With a 25-point lead in the 3rd quarter, everything was right there for the Utah Jazz to send the OKC Thunder into the offseason with more questions than answers.

Westbrook registered back-to-back three-pointers, then made a layup with five minutes left in the third quarter to cut Utah's lead to 73-60. Gobert had words when he got up, clearly not pleased with the foul that left him in pain. "Our team did an wonderful job of sticking together and coming out with a win". It is also important to note that that Carmelo and Corey Brewer were off the floor for almost all of this comeback. It looked like what fans imagined this team could look like in the postseason: smothering defense, outlandish offense. The easy corner looks that the Jazz were thriving on evaporated.

How did suspense suddenly creep into a series in which the Jazz controlled and held in their overachieving hands? Grant was absolutely instrumental for the Thunder on the defensive end. There won't be a return trip for the Jazz to Oklahoma City until the 2018-19 season. To be fair, he likely didn't know he was on camera, and that it would go viral, and that we'd all overreact, blow up his spot, etc. etc.

The victor of the Jazz-Thunder series will play the NBA's top-seeded Houston Rockets.

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