At the very beginning of the 2017-18 season, a big question surrounding the Utah Jazz was how they would close games without Gordon Hayward.
In the biggest contest of the year Wednesday night, the Jazz used a strong finish to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-95 to tie the teams’ first-round playoff series at a game apiece as it heads to Salt Lake City for the next two tilts.
With the game tied at 89 and just over four minutes remaining, Utah closed on a 13-6 run to seize the victory. Here’s a breakdown of what happened in the final minutes.
4:07 remaining: Donovan Mitchell held the ball near midcourt and called for Derrick Favors to set him a screen. Instead of using the screen to go right, Mitchell accelerated left toward the lane. The Thunder defense collapsed, leaving Ricky Rubio wide open, and he sank a 3-pointer.
SCORE: 92-89 Jazz
3:13 remaining: After a Steven Adams bucket, Rubio missed an open 3, which was followed by Russell Westbrook missing a jumper. Mitchell got the rebound and pushed the ball up the floor. His layup attempt was swatted by Paul George, but the ball went right to Rudy Gobert, who went up strong and was fouled by Stephen Adams. Gobert made one of two free throws.
SCORE: 93-91 Jazz
2:48 remaining: With George having missed a midrange jumper that was defended relatively well, Rubio pushed the ball up and found Gobert in the low block being defended by Adams. Gobert went up strong, and Adams fouled him, marking his sixth violation and disqualifying him from the game. Not only was Adams now out of the game, but Gobert made both free throws.
SCORE: 95-91 Jazz
2:23 remaining: Following misses from both teams, Westbrook hurried the ball up the floor and was fouled. He made both free throws.
SCORE: 95-93 Jazz
2:03 remaining: On a possession that didn’t seem to be going anywhere, Mitchell drove to the basket with the shot clock winding down and was fouled. He made both free throws.
SCORE: 97-93 Jazz
1:37 remaining: After the Jazz were content to let Jerami Grant, who had made just 29 percent of his 3-point attempts on the season, shoot and miss one from downtown, Utah drew up a play for Donovan Mitchell out of a timeout. The rookie drove right, and then spun left in the lane, putting up a floater that went right in.
Grant then redeemed himself with a layup after he drove past Gobert from the top of the key. That bucket wound up being the final points Oklahoma City scored on the night.
SCORE: 99-95 Jazz
21 seconds remaining: Following a Utah turnover, a missed 3 from Carmelo Anthony, a contested miss from Joe Ingles and another Anthony missed 3, Russell fouled Gobert on a rebound, and the Frenchman made both free throws.
SCORE: 101-95 Jazz
16 seconds remaining: The Jazz defended the ensuing possession incredibly well, and George was forced to hoist up a 3-point try with Gobert right on him. Gobert blocked the shot, and Mitchell secured the ball. He passed it to Rubio, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.
SCORE: 102-95 Jazz
6 seconds remaining: George put up another 3-pointer that went long, Ingles secured the ball and passed it to Rubio, who dribbled out the remaining second on the game clock.
FINAL: 102-95 Jazz