Russell Westbrook, Paul George fuel season-saving comeback for Thunder

Westbrook was the spark that lit an improbable fire, the Oklahoma City Thunder overcoming a 25-point second-half deficit to shock the Utah Jazz 107-99 in Game 5. Westbrook finished with 45 points on 17-of-39 shooting,nfl jerseys cheap authentic with Paul George adding 34 on 12-of-26. No other Thunder player was in double figures.

“It was one of those nights where obviously our bench, our crowd, everyone here in Oklahoma was behind us,” Westbrook said. “We needed every bit of it tonight and our guys stepped up.”

Up until Westbrook drained back-to-back 3s midway through the third quarter, though, it looked like a death march for the Thunder, a slow, painful crawl to the end, with the final buzzer to be a merciful punctuation on a disappointing season. It was as if the Thunder had accepted their fate, and were resigned to being taken out back and put down.

The Jazz weren’t just dominating; they were humiliating the Thunder. Any push by OKC was met with a Jazz barrage in response. The arena was flat. The fans were a mix of sad, frustrated, angry and hopeless. For the first time in a while, the Thunder were on their way to true despair. There were some empty seats in the lower bowl for a playoff game in Oklahoma City — an unthinkable thing — and the Thunder were in danger of activating one of the worst fanbase emotions: apathy. Fans were already in early stages of compartmentalizing this season after the Thunder lost both games in Salt Lake, but the performance through 28 minutes or so crystalized it. Light boos scattered throughout the arena as the Jazz poured it on.12

Ekpe Udoh made a layup, and Westbrook responded with a jumper. Before the game, Westbrook went through his routine and was noticeably off. After clanging a series of 3s from the top of the key, he stretched his arms slowly above his head and gave a slight grimace. Something has been off, it seemed, with Westbrook in this series and after he played Game 4 with cupping marks and kinesio tape all over his shoulders, it seemed maybe something was going on. Or maybe whatever it was that was ailing Westbrook was no longer patrolling the paint because of foul trouble.

Westbrook went right to rim again, cutting it to 13. Sensing the shift, Jazz coach Quin Snyder daringly subbed Gobert back in. Gobert made a free throw, and George attacked him straight away, finishing a layup over him as he guarded against a fifth foul. Two free throws by Westbrook cut it to 10, and after an offensive rebound, Gobert was called for his fifth after hooking Alex Abrines making a post move. Some other stuff happened, a George layup,custom nfl jerseys cheap a Westbrook 3, an awesome Donovan Mitchell dunk, but the comeback was finally complete when Westbrook stopped and popped to splash a 3 with 35.9 seconds left in the third to tie the score 78-78. After the shot dropped, Westbrook’s unleashed a megawatt snarl that could power a fusion generator.

“I thought Russ did an unbelievable job of taking what they were giving to him,” George said. “He just played the game and whatever they did, he did the opposite. He was special.”