SALT LAKE CITY — While the Utah Jazz put away Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night at Vivint Arena with a remarkable third quarter, the final few minutes of the second frame served as a catalyst for the rout.
With 5:15 remaining in the second, the Jazz picked up their fifth team foul of the quarter, meaning the Thunder would get two free throws after every Utah foul until halftime.
Given that the Jazz were trailing by three, it wasn’t an ideal situation for the home team, and Russell Westbrook immediately made two foul shots to stretch the Oklahoma City lead to five.
But instead of being a negative for Utah, it wound up being a big turning point, as Quin Snyder’s club closed the half on a 20-9 run to take a 58-52 lead into halftime.
A good deal of the Jazz’s success during the stretch came down to improved offense. Just 3 of 14 from behind the 3-point line up to the 5:15 mark, Utah closed by making four of five attempts from downtown.
More specifically, Joe Ingles made all three of his tries on consecutive possessions after starting the contest 0 for 4. Royce O’Neale made the other (the first points of the run) and finished the half 2 of 3 from downtown with eight points.
Although the run was more a function of the Jazz’s offense getting going after a sluggish start, the Utah defense did enough to keep the Thunder in check, especially over the final 1:36 as the Jazz went on an 11-3 run.
Of particular note, Westbrook picked up his fourth foul on a charge, which led to Ingles’ second 3-pointer down the stretch. Then, with eight seconds remaining before the break and Utah up four, Paul George turned the ball over in the backcourt, giving the Jazz the chance for the final possession, which Donovan Mitchell used to drive to the basket for a layup to put Utah up 58-52.
Raymond Felton’s desperation heave as time expired was no good.