It doesn’t always (or even often) happen this way, but Russell Westbrook took what was given to him. He hit a pull-up jumper with 1.4 seconds remaining that would prove as the game-winner.
“I didn’t want to take the shot too early,” Westbrook said. “I was open early, but kind of waited. I wanted to knock some time off the clock.”
Westbrook, off of an Adams pick, saw an opening on the right side of the line and went for it. His mid-range jumper can be spotty at times, but it looked automatic as ever on this play:
A Gordon Hayward three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining tied the game at 95 before Russ hit the game-winner.
Westbrook tied Larry Bird’s mark for triple-doubles at 59 (the fifth-most ever) but his utter dominance down the stretch was most notable. Despite missing 14 straight shots in the third and fourth quarters, Westbrook pulled himself out of the hole to score 11 of the Thunder’s final 13 points. Westbrook ended the game with 38 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.
It was a spotty and inconsistent game offensively from both teams–a game of runs if ever there were one. The Thunder led 56-53 at the half, playing quite well up to that point. The wheels fell off in the third, though, putting up just 11 points to the Jazz’s 19. A 10-2 run in the fourth quarter fueled by Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo led the way for Westbrook to take over in the final minutes.
The Jazz own the league’s second-slowest pace, and the Thunder took advantage of it in their game plan, running at all opportunities. OKC has 25 fast break points on the night–Utah mustered just 9.
Adams, who made his return to the floor after missing two games with a concussion, played 37 minutes and finished with nine points, six rebounds and four assists. The bulk of his work didn’t show up in the box score: “We hit the right rotations and it led to good momentum after that. It’s real easy to gain momentum offensively after we made some stops.”
Victor Oladipo finished with 18 points on 8-18 shooting, adding four rebounds and two steals. Enes Kanter (who was booed heavily against his former team each time he touched the ball) scored 14, grabbing five rebounds. Andre Roberson had a game-high 11 rebounds, adding eight points.
For the Jazz, Gordon Hayward led the way in scoring with 17, adding six rebounds. Rudy Gobert, one of the league’s premier rim-protectors, had four blocks in addition to his 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Thunder improve to 26-19, now just 2.5 games behind the Jazz in the Northwest division. The Jazz fall to 29-17. Next up for Oklahoma City: they travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans. Tipoff is tomorrow night at 7 P.M.