The Roundup—Jazz top Thunder, advance to second round

Cold shooting. Bad turnovers. One key injury.

The Jazz overcame all of that—plus another big night from Russell Westbrook—thanks to the performance of a lifetime by Donovan Mitchell.

Utah's rookie stood out in a game featuring plenty of star power, scoring 28 of his 38 points after halftime to lead the shorthanded Jazz to a dramatic 96-91 victory and a 4-2 series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs.

The Jazz will now face the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals.

"The first half, I was hesitant and kind of nervous," Mitchell said after the game. "Coach Quin came up to me after a timeout just before the half ended and said, 'We're going to win this game and you're going to go off.' ... From that point on I just kept knocking down shots."

Mitchell made his first eight shots of the second half, helping the Jazz build a lead they'd cling to until the confetti dropped from the catwalks high above their home court.

Derrick Favors finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, and his jumper with just over a minute left was one of the key plays of the game. Rudy Gobert (12 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks, only one foul), Joe Ingles (12 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and Alec Burks (11 points) also scored in double figures for the Jazz.

Utah played most of the game without Ricky Rubio, who left the court after only seven minutes with a hamstring injury and did not return. He had three assists. Entering the night, the Jazz were +9.9 with Rubio on the court during the series and -7.5 with him off.

Westbrook dominated the ball for the Thunder, scoring a game-high 46 points on 18-for-43 shooting. The reigning league MVP shot 7-for-19 from 3-point range and added 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Thunder center Steven Adams had his best game of the series, finishing with 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Paul George scored five points on 2-for-16 shooting (including 0-for-6 from beyond the arc), while Carmelo Anthony finished with seven points in the loss.

Friday's Best

Mitchell started things off with a three and then didn't score until midway through the second quarter, when he hit another big three to stop a 7-0 Thunder run. He added two slick layups before halftime, and then put the team on his back in the second half. Mitchell came out of the break with 15 points in the first six minutes of the third quarter to put Utah up by 10, and then he helped close the Thunder out with 13 more the rest of the way. He shot 14-for-26 from the field (including 5-for-8 from 3-point range) and 5-for-5 from the line, and he added four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 40 minutes.

Key Stretches

Utah got off to a nice start, forcing a wild miss by Anthony and following that up with a corner three by Mitchell. Gobert reached high to stuff home an alley-oop slam (from Rubio) and Favors worked hard down low for a bucket. OKC, though, went on a 12-0 run to take a 20-11 lead. A banked-in jumper by Favors and a three by Jae Crowder helped Utah cut that deficit to 22-18 by the end of the first quarter. Burks scored five straight points to give the Jazz a 23-22 lead early in the second quarter.

The Jazz fell behind by nine before they finally got going late in the second quarter. Mitchell put in a scooping layup, Gobert flushed down a two-handed putback dunk, and—after Favors stuffed a transition layup attempt by Westbrook—Ingles canned back-to-back threes to tie the game at 39-39 with less than a minute left in the first half. After two Thunder free throws, Mitchell drove in for a layup with 1.5 seconds left to tie the game going into halftime.

Mitchell used a mix of unstoppable drives and deadly outside shooting to score 10 straight Utah points to start the third quarter. The result was a five-point Jazz lead and all the momentum. Favors added six points—on a hook shot, a dunk and a driving layup—before Mitchell stepped into another three to give the Jazz a 62-52 lead and force an OKC timeout. Mitchell and Westbrook traded buckets the rest of the quarter, with Utah taking a 78-70 lead into the fourth period. Mitchell scored 22 points on 8-for-10 shooting in the quarter, while Westbrook had 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting.

Mitchell picked up his fifth foul and headed to the bench with just over 10 minutes left in the game and the Jazz up by five. Burks immediately drilled a three from the very corner and then Royce O'Neale grabbed a steal and took it in for a layup to push Utah's lead to 10. Consecutive blocks by Gobert and Favors and a steal by Gobert fueled Utah's 8-0 run. When Mitchell re-entered the game after three minutes on the bench, the Jazz led by 13.

A three-point play by Westbrook pulled OKC within five with 5:31 left, but a putback by Mitchell and a layup by Gobert pushed Utah's lead back to nine. The Thunder, though, went on a 7-0 run before Mitchell converted another tough layup. Westbrook drilled a three to pull OKC within one, but Favors responded with a 18-foot jumper with 1:08 left. In the final minute, the Thunder missed five straight shots (two layups and three 3-pointers) but were able to grab five straight offensive rebounds. OKC had the ball with 24.7 seconds left and one final chance to tie the game, but George missed another 3-point attempt and the Jazz (finally) secured the rebound and dribbled around until Mitchell was fouled with 6.9 seconds left. He hit both free throws to seal the victory.

Significant Stats


The Jazz didn't shoot the ball well early on—after Mitchell hit a three to start the game, they proceeded to shoot only 7-for-29 (including 1-for-9 from three) until OKC took a 35-26 lead with 4:03 left in the first half. From that point on, though, Utah shot 29-for-51 (56.9 percent) from the field and 9-for-17 (52.9 percent) from beyond the arc.


Utah was ice-cold from the line, shooting only 12-for-23 (52.2 percent) as a team. The Jazz had shot 8-for-19 before Gobert stepped up and sank two freebies midway through the fourth quarter. Mitchell hit two more in the closing seconds.


Oklahoma City outrebounded Utah 49-40, including 15-11 on the offensive glass (Adams had eight of those offensive rebounds). The Jazz, though, were still able to outscore the Thunder 18-14 on second-chance points.


The Jazz held OKC's big three of Westbrook (18-for-43), George (2-for-16) and Anthony (3-for-7) to only 34.8 percent shooting. The trio also combined to commit 12 turnovers.

Coach's Quote of the Night

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder


Mitchell joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970) as the only rookies in NBA history to score 20+ points in each of their first six playoff games. ... The Jazz are now 9-0 all time in closeout games when leading the series 3-1. ... Gobert picked up a technical foul early in the second quarter. ... Each team committed 13 turnovers. ... Westbrook shot 39.8 percent on 26.8 shots per game during the series. ... After logging only five minutes in the first five games combined, Burks played 17 important minutes off the bench in Game 6. He finished with a net rating of +7.

Up Next

The Jazz will hit the road to face the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Sunday. Tipoff is set for 1:30pm MT and the game will be broadcast nationally on ABC.

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