The Roundup—OKC's outside shooting dooms Jazz

The Jazz started strong in Game 1 Sunday night, but a barrage of 3-pointers (mostly by Paul George) put them in a hole they couldn’t climb out of in a 116-108 loss to the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

Utah staked itself to an early double-digit lead before OKC rallied, and the game remained close until the Thunder surged to an 18-point lead late in the fourth quarter.

“We knew this series was going to be a tough one and wanted to come ready to play—and we did,” Utah’s Ricky Rubio said after the game. “But we have to do it for 48 minutes. They have great players who make big plays.”

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 27 points, while Rubio—despite a cold 5-for-18 shooting night—stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Rudy Gobert finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while Danté Exum had a strong second half, scoring eight of his 10 points after halftime. Jae Crowder had 13 points off the bench.

Joe Ingles had 13 points but struggled with five fouls and only one assist in the loss for the Jazz.

OKC’s big three of George (36 points), Russell Westbrook (29 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists) and Carmelo Anthony (15 points) accounted for 69.0 percent of the Thunder’s offense in the win.

Sunday’s Best

Playing on the biggest stage of his young career, Mitchell carried the Jazz for much of the game. After scoring 20+ points 46 times during the regular season, the rookie finished with 27 points on 11-for-22 shooting (including 3-for-7 from 3-point range) on Sunday. He added 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in 35 minutes. Mitchell suffered a toe injury in the first half but played through it until he was pulled for good with about four minutes left in the game.

Key Stretches

Utah got off to a hot start, jumping out to a quick 16-4 lead behind nine points from Mitchell. The rookie threw down a two-handed slam, made two buckets in the lane, and drilled a pull-up three. Gobert added two dunks and Ingles hit a three during that stretch.

The Thunder grabbed the momentum early in the second quarter, but the Jazz hung around and trailed by only six heading into halftime. Gobert scored three buckets in the lane—two dunks and a putback layup—while Mitchell scored four points and Rubio got going with four points in the final two minutes of the first half.

In a sequence that pretty much sums up how the game went, the Jazz fell behind 56-48 early in the third quarter before two quick buckets (a long three by Mitchell and a driving layup by Ingles) got them close. George, though, drilled back-to-back threes to extend the Thunder’s lead back to nine.

Late in the third quarter, Mitchell scored five quick points to cut OKC’s 11-point lead to six, but a foul by Mitchell and back-to-back turnovers by Exum led to seven straight Thunder points, including (you guessed it!) another three by George.

The Thunder went on a 13-6 run midway through the final period to extend their lead to 18 and put the game out of reach.

Significant Stats

-9

The Thunder led the league in second-chance points during the regular season, and tonight they dominated the Jazz with 19 second-chance points (to Utah’s 10). The Jazz went just 19-21 during the regular season when they allowed 11 or more second-chance points.

48.3

OKC shot 14-for-29 (48.3 percent) from 3-point range, with George (8-for-11) doing much of the damage. Alex Abrines went 3-for-5 from deep, including two straight corner threes during a key stretch early in the fourth quarter. The Jazz shot 11-for-28 (39.3 percent) from beyond the arc.

+18

While Oklahoma City bombed away from outside, the Jazz were at their best around the rim, outscoring the Thunder 50-32 in the paint.

Coach’s Quote of the Night

“We did a pretty good job protecting the rim. They just made jump shots.”

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

Notable

Mitchell became the first player since LeBron James (in 2006) to finish with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds in his playoff debut. … Utah (47.1 percent) and Oklahoma City (48.2 percent) both shot the ball well. … Alec Burks scored 10 points (on 4-for-4 shooting) in the final two minutes of the game.

Up Next

The Jazz and Thunder will meet for Game 2 on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. Tipoff is set for 6:00pm MT. The game will be televised nationally on NBATV.

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