It was like night and day for the Thunder comparing the first half of play to the second half in Wednesday night’s battle against the Utah Jazz for Game 5 of the series in the first round of playoffs.
The Thunder, who once trailed by 25 points, decided they weren’t ready to hang it up quite yet this season, and players like Paul George and Russell Westbrook led the team to the largest comeback win in Thunder history at 107-99 by the final buzzer.
The Utah Jazz entered Wednesday night’s matchup leading the series 3-1, and the Thunder desperately needed to kick it into gear to defend their home court and keep their season alive; Russell Westbrook made sure that was exactly what happened.
Russ led the Thunder scoring 45 points and picking up 15 rebounds making this his 12th straight doubt-double in postseason basketball. Russ also joined players like LeBron James and Wilt Chamberlain becoming one of the three only players in NBA history with 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in a playoff game.
“It’s win or go home,” Russ said during postgame. He never sat in the second half, and his agility and unforgiving performance resurged not only his team to play well, but the entire arena to show the support and enthusiasm the team needed to claim victory.
“You guys see that on a nightly basis,” Paul George said on Russ during postgame. “He’s being a competitor, and he’ll play until there’s no more time on the clock.”
PG gave a massive contribution to the Thunder’s win tonight picking up 34 points and eight rebounds. 21 of his points were scored in the second half.
The Thunder went to the locker room at halftime down 56-41, but Raymond Felton was there to pick the team up and rejuvenate their hopes of giving Oklahoma City fans a win.
“I’ve been in the league 13 years,” Felton said postgame. “That is probably one of the most amazing games I have ever been a part of.”
Felton had a quiet night with only two points and four minutes of playing, but he took the initiative to encourage his teammates at halftime to go back out and continue the fight.
“I basically told these guys ‘Do you want this?'” Felton said. “The way we were playing was embarrassing. It wasn’t Thunder basketball. So it was one of those things where we decided to go out there, and we decided to fight.”
Thunder fought the good fight outscoring the Jazz 37-22 in the third quarter and ended tied at 78 going into the final quarter.
Russ, PG and the Thunder defense made crucial stops and clutch shots to close out the game 107-99 over the Jazz, but the real test for the Thunder will be Friday when they head to Utah to take on the Jazz for Game 6.
The Jazz remain ahead of the Thunder with a 3-2 series lead, but after OKC’s second half performance Wednesday night, this series may or may not be far from over.
Take a look inside the Thunder locker room to see what players had to say about this vital win over the Jazz:
Watch here for Billy Donovan’s full postgame conference following a 107-99 win over the Utah Jazz:
Watch here for Russell Westbrook’s and Paul George’s full postgame conference:
Game 6 against the Utah Jazz will be held in the Vivant Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. If the Thunder win, the final game of the series will be held in Chesapeake Energy Arena on April 29.