Paul George drained a franchise playoff-record eight 3-pointers while scoring 36 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 116-108 victory over the visiting Utah Jazz in the opening game of their playoff series on Sunday night.
Russell Westbrook contributed 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists to help the Thunder recover from a slow start. Carmelo Anthony added 15 points, Steven Adams scored 12 and Alex Abrines had 11.
Rookie Donovan Mitchell had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz despite being hobbled in the final quarter by a sore left foot. Rudy Gobert scored 14 points, Jae Crowder, Joe Ingles and Ricky Rubio added 13 apiece while Dante Exum and Alec Burks each tallied 10.
Game 2 in the Western Conference first-round series is scheduled for Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
George was 13 of 20 from the field, and he missed only 3 of 11 3-point attempts. However, he was getting his hip and lower back worked on while watching the final 62 seconds as the Jazz staged a frantic rally.
Utah trimmed an 18-point deficit with 3:20 left down to six behind torrid play from Burks.
The Thunder were 14 of 29 from 3-point range and shot 48.2 percent overall while making 20 of 23 free-throw attempts. Utah shot 47.1 percent from the field, including 11 of 28 from long distance, and hit 15 of 20 foul shots.
Utah was within three early in the third quarter before George connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Thunder a 62-53 lead with 8:53 remaining.
George knocked down another 3-pointer to give Oklahoma City a 79-66 lead with 1:48 remaining in the third.
The Jazz answered with six in a row before George drained a buzzer-beating 21-footer to give the Thunder an 81-72 advantage entering the final quarter.
The Thunder’s lead looked secure after Adams scored two inside hoops and Anthony buried a 3-pointer during a 7-0 push that increased the advantage to 109-91 with 3:20 left.
However, the Jazz crept within eight on a 3-pointer by Burks with 1:02 left. Another 3-pointer by Burks moved Utah within 114-108 with 40.8 seconds remaining before Oklahoma City closed it out.
George scored 20 first-half points and Westbrook added 14 as the Thunder led 54-48 at the break.
George tallied 14 points in the second quarter and Oklahoma City led by as many as nine in the stanza before settling for the six-point halftime edge.
Utah dominated the first six minutes while taking a 16-4 lead before the Thunder rattled off the next 12 points. The contest was tied at 25 at the conclusion of the first quarter.
—Field Level Media