We’re going home so we’ll be fine. —Jae Crowder
OKLAHOMA CITY — Nursing a 25-point lead with 8:34 remaining in the third quarter, it seemed as though Oklahoma City Thunder players would be planning early vacations.
Jae Crowder tied his career-high after his sixth made 3-pointer as the Jazz seemed poised to pull off a gentlemen’s sweep on the road.
But then something clicked for the Thunder.
Russell Westbrook and Paul George both locked in with a different sense of urgency as OKC stormed back with a 32-7 run to tie the game at 78-78 entering the fourth.
Westbrook would end with 45 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists to help the Thunder win Game 5, 107-99, for the largest comeback win in franchise history.
George added 34 points, eight rebounds and two steals. The duo combined for 54 points in the second half.
“It was very, very important, especially win or go home,” Westbrook said. “Regardless of what’s going on throughout the game, you always gotta give yourselves a chance to win and I thought our guys did a good job of that tonight and our team did an amazing job of sticking together and coming out with the win.”
After being ejected in Game 4 for an inadvertent elbow against Steven Adams, Crowder unleashed his frustration in the beginning of Game 5.
He matched his career-best of 27 points while shooting 6-for-14 from beyond the arc but the Jazz melted down after the third-quarter storm — particularly when Gobert picked up his fourth foul early in the period.
Joe Ingles was also hot at the start, draining 14 of his 16 points in the first half with four 3-pointers, but wasn’t impactful in the last two quarters, going 0-for-3 with a turnover in 22 minutes.
“They made adjustments and we didn’t adjust as a unit to continue to get shots, not for myself but for our team period,” Crowder said. “When they went on the run, we didn’t get looks that we wanted to get down the stretch.”
Utah entered halftime with a 56-41 edge after shooting 50 percent from deep.
Meanwhile, OKC was held to 35.6 percent shooting with George leading the way with 13 points as Westbrook went 5-for-16 from the field with 13 points, for rebounds, three assists and three turnovers. It seemed as though OKC was repeating the same pattern that dug them into the 3-1 hole until the big lead dissipated quickly with Westbrook and George knocking down shots.
“Well, I think a 25-, 20-point lead in the NBA is not safe, especially when you’ve got two guys like Russell (Westbrook) and Paul George that can do what they did,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “I thought the two threes that Westbrook hit were big shots, and then Paul George followed up with a three-point play, and all of a sudden a 25-point lead is a 16-point lead and they found some rhythm.”
Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell attempted to carry the Jazz late with eight of his 23 points in the fourth, but OKC’s defensive intensity was too strong after the big run.
Utah shot just 11.1 percent from 3 and 40.9 percent from the field in the final quarter.
Utah now returns to Vivint Arena for Game 6 on Friday at 8:30 p.m. MT. holding a 3-2 series lead.
“We’re going home so we’ll be fine,” Crowder said.
Only time will tell if that statement holds true.