SPORTS

Jazz outlast OKC, close out series in Game 6

Apr 27, 2018, 11:14 PM | Updated: Aug 4, 2022, 8:35 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
(10)

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

Sports

A US Soccer spokesperson told CNN in an email that Pulisic, who collided with the Iranian goalkeepe...
Kevin Dotson and Matias Grez, CNN

Christian Pulisic is day-to-day after being taken to hospital with pelvic contusion suffered scoring winning goal for US

A US Soccer spokesperson told CNN in an email that Pulisic, who collided with the Iranian goalkeeper after scoring his goal, went for medical scans but "was not hospitalized."
22 hours ago
The USA has beaten Iran at the World Cup and advances into the Knockout Round....
Matias Grez

USMNT advances to World Cup knockout stage with victory over Iran

Christian Pulisic's first-half goal was all that separated the two sides as the USMNT reached the round of 16 for the first time since 2014.
2 days ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
2 days ago
Team USA gymnasts cheer from stands, four utah kids competed in international gymnastics competitio...
Britt Johnson

Utah well-represented during international gymnastics competition

A gymnastics competition last week saw four kids from Utah competing against international gymnasts. One parent says preparation went beyond training.
3 days ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
Ben Morse and Wayne Sterling, CNN

Iran wants US out of World Cup after change made to Iranian flag

Iran state media has called for the US to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup after the United States Soccer Federation changed Iran's flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.
4 days ago
On Saturday, two German soccer fans told CNN that they were asked by security officials at Qatar 20...
Ben Church, CNN

Soccer fans stopped by security for wearing rainbow-colored items

The World Cup is well underway in Qatar, but issues surrounding LGBTQ+ rights for the Gulf state won't go away.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Jazz outlast OKC, close out series in Game 6