OKLAHOMA CITY — In between the lines of the hardwood, there was no love between Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder players.
That was quickly apparent from Russell Westbrook’s flagrant foul against Rudy Gobert in the opening quarter to Jae Crowder and Dennis Schroder’s double technical foul calls in the second quarter following their player altercation.
So Friday’s matchup in Chesapeake Energy Arena was certainly a dogfight.
Not even 48 minutes was enough for the Western Conference rivals as Oklahoma City topped Utah in not one, but two overtimes of the first game after the NBA All-Star break, 148-147.
In a rematch of the of last year’s first-round playoff series where the Jazz won, 4-2, Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz after tying a season-high with 38 points on 14-for-35 shooting, but it was Paul George who willed the Thunder to victory.
George drilled a high-arcing floater for the game-winner with 1.6 seconds remaining over the outstretched arms of Rudy Gobert and finished with a game-high 45 points, nine rebounds and seven assists on the night.
“I thought we played hard, I think we did some really good things, we scored the ball but then we got beat on what was a really difficult shot from a really good player,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “We had a few looks on the other end that couldn’t get to go and we made a few mistakes not taking care of the ball and not getting shots offensively, and we made a couple mistakes defensively that cost us it.”
Despite leading by as many as 10 in the fourth, the Jazz and Thunder were knotted 129-129 entering the first overtime after George exploded for 17 in that fourth period alone.
The overtime periods were Utah’s first of the season as they finished with a season-high 147 points as a team, the most they’ve scored in any game since 1982, but George’s stellar play down the stretch sealed the victory.
Westbrook finished with 43 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists but fouled out with 1:09 left in the first overtime after picking up an offensive foul against Crowder on a transition drive. Westbrook and George became the first set of teammates to post 40-5-5 in the same game since 1983, according to ESPN.
Derrick Favors started 9-for-9 from the field before ending with 24 points and 11 boards while Gobert added a season-high 26 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.
The Jazz are now 0-3 against Oklahoma City in the season series and won’t see them again until March 11 at Vivint Arena. Utah won’t have much time to sulk about the latest loss either with a back-to-back game scheduled against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night in Utah.
Turnovers is what ultimately hurt the Jazz as well as they finished with 25 to OKC’s 11. Ricky Rubio committed eight turnovers alone as he faced the tough task of being matched up against Westbrook.12 comments on this story
The Westbrook-Rubio matchup was personal for the former MVP following last year’s postseason series. At one point, early in the third, Westbrook drilled a jumper over Rubio then looked to Snyder and yelled, “Get him off me!”
Crowder was also solid off the bench with 20 points and eight boards, but the Thunder made the necessary plays in the clutch to come away with the win.
“I think we always compete, both teams did, but eventually your execution, no matter how hard you’re competing, you’ve got to be able to execute,” Snyder said. “We … did a great job at certain times on both ends and then had some possessions where we didn’t and those cost you. Your margin for error is not that great.”