Mitchell lifts Jazz past Thunder 102-95 to even series
(Photo by Layne Murdoch Sr./NBAE via Getty Images)
By CLIFF BRUNT
AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) It wasn't even clear until an hour before the game if Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell was going to play in Game 2 against Oklahoma City.
The Thunder probably wish he hadn't.
Mitchell, who played with a bruised left foot, scored 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to help the Jazz defeat Oklahoma City 102-95 and tie their Western Conference playoff series at one win apiece.
"I think if he was feeling something, he didn't show it and he played through it," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
Mitchell did his damage attacking the basket. He missed all seven of his 3-pointers, but made 10 of 18 from inside the arc and eight of nine free throws. Mitchell said center Rudy Gobert told him to quit settling for jumpers.
"He let me know I went 0 of 7 from 3 and I'm letting guys off the hook," Mitchell said. "We've got to keep applying pressure and getting to the rim."
Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds for the Thunder. Paul George, who scored 36 points in Game 1, finished with 18 on 6-for-21 shooting. Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points, but made just six of 18 shots.
"We just have to be aggressive," Westbrook said. "We miss and make shots. Shots are going to fall. Those guys (George and Anthony) are unbelievable scorers, and we have trusted those guys all season long, and we will continue to do that."
Gobert added 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Jazz, who outrebounded Oklahoma City 56-46 to seize home-court advantage from the Thunder. Game 3 will be Saturday in Utah.
Oklahoma City had two chances in the final minute to trim Utah's lead with the Jazz leading 99-95, but Anthony missed 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions.
"I thought we had some good shots," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "I think the entire game, we could have executed better."
Utah led 53-46 at halftime behind 12 points from Rubio and 10 points and eight rebounds from Favors. Oklahoma City made just nine of 25 shots inside the 3-point line in the first half. George led the Thunder with 11 points at the break.
Thunder center Steven Adams picked up his fourth foul with 6:46 left in the third quarter and the Thunder down 65-58, yet Oklahoma City responded with a run. George's 3-pointer put the Thunder up 69-67. Oklahoma City closed the quarter on a 21-9 run to take a 79-74 lead. The Thunder held the Jazz to 7 for 23 shooting in the third quarter before Mitchell took over in the fourth.
"Miscommunication down on the defensive end at times led to (Utah's) offensive rebounds," Anthony said. "Things that we can correct, things that we need to correct, things that we will correct on the next game. We threw the first punch. They punched us back tonight, and now, we've got to go on the road and get a win at their place, and that's the mindset."
Thunder: George played through a bruised right hip. He was limited in practice Tuesday. ... Japanese artist and Thunder fan Nanae Yamano attended the game. She is known for her illustrations of Thunder players. ... Adams fouled out with 2:48 to play. He finished with nine points and seven rebounds. ... F Jerami Grant scored 13 points.
Jazz: Utah opened the game with a 9-0 lead. ... Favors had nine points and seven rebounds in the first quarter. ... Jonas Jerebko scored 10 points in 12:46 as a reserve.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Westbrook, George and Anthony combined to miss all 14 field goals in the fourth quarter and score just two points.
"I don't know," Anthony said. "We missed. We all missed. I don't really have an answer to what happened or an excuse to why we didn't make shots. We just didn't make shots in that fourth quarter."
CONDOLENCES FOR POPOVICH
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich's wife, Erin, died Wednesday. Snyder coached the Spurs' G-League team, the Austin Toros, from 2007-2010.
"We know what coach Pop has meant to us, and we just want to offer our condolences for his loss," Snyder said.
Game 3 is Saturday at Utah.
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Updated April 19, 2018