SALT LAKE CITY — There was speculation that Oklahoma City might tweak its lineup after the success it had in the third quarter of Game 5 against the Jazz when coach Billy Donovan kept Carmelo Anthony on the bench throughout the 32-7 third-quarter run that brought the Thunder back from a 25-point deficit to a tie game going into the fourth quarter.
Donovan went with the same five starters Friday night: Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Corey Brewer, Steven Adams and Paul George as the previous playoff games, but did play reserves Jerami Grant (29 minutes) and Alex Abrines (20 minutes) longer than usual.
“You’ve got to see what’s going on with the game,” Donovan said. “We’ve got to be prepared to use every player. It depends on however it’s going and who’s playing well and matching up — everybody on our team needs to be prepared to contribute.”
Anthony actually ended up playing more first-half minutes with 17 because Grant got foul three fouls by the 4:13 mark of the second quarter. He had played just 15 in the first half of Wednesday’s game. By halftime Anthony scored just five points on 2-of-6 shooting.
Anthony played just eight minutes in the second half and scored two more points, finishing with seven points on 3-of-7 shooting on the night as Donovan opted to go with Grant the majority of the time.
George, who has been the Thunder’s best player in the series, played all but one minute of the first half and all but a minute and a half of the second, but he had his worst game of the series with just five points on 2-of-16 shooting, including 0 for 7 in the second half.
UNDER CONTROL: Before the game, Donovan said his team needed to play under better control than it did earlier this week when it was whistled for four technical fouls in a 113-96 loss at Vivint Arena.
“This is a great environment to play in, there’s a lot of passion and energy here,” he said of Vivint Arena. “For us, it’s a second elimination game and obviously you’ve got to hold your ground and compete, but you’ve also got to control your emotions and be able to execute. A lot of times when you’re unable to control your emotions it becomes very difficult to be able to execute.”
The Thunder had no technical fouls on the night compared to one for the Jazz -- Rudy Gobert in the second quarter.
THUNDER NOTES: The Thunder shot just 39.8 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from 3-point range . . . Both teams struggled from the free throw line as the Thunder went 7 for 13 (53.8 percent) while the Jazz were 12 of 23 (52.2 percent) . . . OKC won the rebounding battle 65-52, including 16 offensive rebounds . . .Going into Friday’s game, the Thunder were leading the NBA in the postseason in deflections (19.2), steals (9.40) and points off opponents’ turnovers (22.6) . . . Wednesday’s comeback for OKC was the first of its kind in NBA over the past two decades in the fact that it was the 2,556th time a team had trailed by at least 25 points in the third quarter but the first time that team came back to be tied or leading going into the fourth quarter . . . George is one of just five active players with 500 rebounds and 150 3-pointers in the playoffs.