Jazz outlast OKC, close out series in Game 6

Apr 27, 2018, 11:14 PM | Updated: Apr 28, 2018, 12:22 am
Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10) shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder guard Alex Abrines (8) as Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) takes an arm to the face from Oklahoma City Thunder guard Raymond Felton (2) in the first half of Game 6 of the NBA playoffs first round series at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 27, 2018. Spenser Heaps/Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — No matter what Russell Westbrook did, Donovan Mitchell had an answer.

It was shaping up to be a shootout between the NBA’s reigning MVP and one of its most promising young rookies, until Mitchell got into foul trouble and had to head to the bench.

The one-on-one, back-and-forth game of who can do it better between the two stars highlighted a gritty, sometimes uneven 96-91 victory for the Jazz in Game 6 of their first-round Western Conference showdown with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Jazz won the series 4-2 and now head to Houston to take on the Rockets on Sunday.

“We’ll take a deep breath, enjoy the win tonight, and tomorrow try to get together and start our prep (for Houston),” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said following the Jazz win.

Mitchell finished with a postseason high of 38 points on 14-of-26 shooting. He also hit 5-of-8 from 3-point range.

“The things that Donovan did tonight, the team needed,” Snyder said. “That’s basically who he’s been. He’s a team-first guy.”

Westbrook scored a game-high 46 points on 18-of-43 shooting, including 7-of-19 from 3. He also had 10 rebounds and five assists.

Late in the third quarter, Mitchell answered Westbrook on every drive to the hoop or pull-up 3. And the fans took note, twice in the third quarter chanting “M-V-P” as Mitchell shot free throws in front of a sellout crowd of gold T-shirt-clad fans Friday night at Vivint Arena.

The chants and cheers erupted again with 6.9 seconds left, when Mitchell hit a pair of free throws to seal the Jazz’s victory.

“In that third quarter, obviously (Mitchell) was dynamic,” Snyder said.

“He got going from behind the (3-point) line,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of Mitchell. “Give him credit. He made some hard shots throughout the course of the game.”

Mitchell picked up his fourth foul with just under two minutes left to play in the third quarter, and then got his fifth with 10 minutes to play in the fourth. The Jazz led 78-73 when he went to the bench.

The Jazz were up seven, 90-83, when Westbrook fired up a wide-open 3-pointer — and left it about a foot short, drawing chants of “airball” from the Jazz faithful. The fans had plenty to say to Westbrook throughout the night, booing or razzing him at every opportunity.

Another Westbrook airball with about two minutes to play and the Jazz leading 92-88 brought the home fans to their feet again, but the MVP quickly silenced the crowed with a corner 3 to cut Utah’s lead to 92-91.

“They’re a great team,” Mitchell said of the Thunder. “They play with heart and play with passion.”

The Jazz, meanwhile, played together, he said.

“We weathered the storm,” Mitchell said. “To beat a team like that, it says a lot.”

After the game, Westbrook complained about the fans, saying “here in Utah, a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said” to visiting players.

“I think it’s disrespectful and needs to be put to a stop,” he told reporters during a postgame news conference.

Mitchell later defended Jazz fans, saying taunting from opposing fans is “part of the game.”

“It happens everywhere,” he said. “I heard it last game (in Oklahoma City). … It’s part of the game, and it makes it fun. … I don’t think it’s just a Utah thing.”

The Jazz played most of the game without starting point guard Ricky Rubio, who left them game after just seven minutes with a strained hamstring. Rubio missed his only shot, a 3-pointer, but dished out three assists in his short appearance on the court. He had been averaging 16.8 points per game in the postseason.

“If he could have played, he would have,” Snyder said. “He just wasn’t able.”

Thunder forward Paul George, who entered the game averaging 28.6 points in the playoffs, scored just five points on 2-of-16 shooting, missing all six of his 3-point shots.

George, who completed his first season in Oklahoma City, was asked after the game about his future with the Thunder.

“I would love to remain a Thunder, but that’s what the summer is for. We’ll address that this summer,” he said.

Steven Adams had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Thunder.

“Obviously we’re disappointed our season has come to an end, but give a lot of credit to the Jazz and the way they played tonight,” Donovan said.

The game started sluggishly for the Jazz, who scored just 18 points in the opening quarter. Utah trailed by as many as nine in the first half, before a pair of 3-pointers from Joe Ingles helped the Jazz even the score at the half, 41-41.

Ingles ended the night with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Derrick Favors had 13 points and eight rebounds, and Rudy Gobert had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

“We obviously didn’t want to go back” to Oklahoma City for a Game 7,” Ingles said. “We wanted to finish in front of our home fans.”

Today’s Top Stories


Utah Falconz team members cheer in celebration...
Mark Jackson

Women’s football team Utah Falconz heads to national championship

Utah's semi-pro tackle women's football team, the Utah Falconz, will head to Texas on June 26 to face off against the Texas Elite Spartans.
16 days ago
boys soccer Utah injuries...
Becky Bruce

High school boys’ soccer put on probation for the high number of ejections

SALT LAKE CITY — The growing number of ejections in high school boys’ soccer prompted the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) to issue a yellow card, of sorts, for the sport. In soccer, a player or coach is ejected when they receive a red card. In such situations, a substitute for the disqualified player […]
18 days ago
FILE - United States gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nich...
ED WHITE Associated Press

Simone Biles, other women seek $1B-plus from FBI over Nassar

The approximately 90 claimants who said they were sexually assaulted include Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, all Olympic gold medalists.
23 days ago
Figure skate age Olympics...
Associated Press

Figure skating minimum age rises to 17 before 2026 Olympics

The age limit will be phased in with 16-year-olds allowed to compete in the 2023-24 season. It will then rise to 17 for the season before the Olympics.
24 days ago
utah jazz coach...
TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer

Quin Snyder ends his tenure as Utah Jazz coach after 8 seasons

Snyder released a statement through the team, part of it simply saying "it is time." Snyder went 372-264 with the Jazz.
25 days ago
CORRECTS TO GAME 2 INSTEAD OF GAME 1 - Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole (3) celebrates afte...
TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer

Warriors answer in Game 2, top Celtics 107-88 to even Finals

Stephen Curry scored 29 points, Jordan Poole connected from just inside of midcourt to cap a huge third-quarter run and the Golden State Warriors evened the NBA Finals at a game apiece by beating the Boston Celtics 107-88 on Sunday night.
25 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Jazz outlast OKC, close out series in Game 6