December 23, 2018 / 4:55 AM / 5 months ago

George explodes for 43 as Thunder nip Jazz

EditorsNote: Tweaks lede, third graf

Paul George’s 43 points on 15-of-25 shooting gave the Oklahoma City Thunder enough of a lift to edge the Utah Jazz 107-106 on Saturday night at Salt Lake City.

Jerami Grant added 15 points for the Thunder. Steven Adams chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook tallied eight points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Oklahoma City won its fourth straight game.

Rudy Gobert scored 20 points and collected 10 rebounds, and Donovan Mitchell tallied 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Jazz.

Ricky Rubio had 12 points and 14 assists, and all five Jazz starters scored in double figures. Utah finished with 35 assists on 42 baskets.

The Jazz rallied from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter and cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 107-105 on a basket from Mitchell with 47.2 seconds left.

Mitchell had a chance to force overtime when Westbrook fouled him with 1.5 seconds left, but he went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line.

Utah executed well on offense throughout the first half.

The Jazz used a 12-3 run to take a 19-11 lead midway through the first quarter. Rubio ignited the run by dishing to Joe Ingles to set up a go-ahead 3-pointer, and Rubio drained a jumper on the next possession.

He finished off the run with a driving bank shot a couple minutes later.

Grant kept the Thunder within striking distance early, scoring 13 points in the first quarter. He trimmed the deficit to 21-19 on a fastbreak layup — one of five baskets Grant scored in the quarter.

Oklahoma City couldn’t fully erase the lead until the second quarter.

Utah threatened to break the game open early in the quarter when the Jazz used a 9-3 run to take a 41-31 lead. Ingles and Derrick Favors sparked the run with back-to-back layups.

Thabo Sefolosha capped it off by draining a 3-pointer and feeding Dante Exum to set up a layup.

The Jazz led by as many as 13 in the quarter, going up 46-33 on a Gobert dunk. The Thunder erased the lead behind a 16-3 run. George scored four baskets to fuel the run, and Grant capped it off with a floater to put Oklahoma City up 54-53.

Utah built a nine-point lead again in the third quarter, going up 79-70 on a 3-pointer from Rubio. The Jazz scored just one basket over the final 5:44 of the quarter, however, opening the door for the Thunder to take control.

Oklahoma City outscored Utah 23-2 in that stretch. George hit a 3-pointer and made three free throws to punctuate the run and push the Thunder’s lead to 93-81 heading into the fourth quarter. He tallied 22 points in the third quarter alone.

—Field Level Media

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