Published: Fri, April 27, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

Russell Westbrook scores 45 as Thunder's huge rally rocks Utah

Russell Westbrook scores 45 as Thunder's huge rally rocks Utah

Wednesday night's comeback by the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Utah Jazz was more proof of how impactful Rudy Gobert is on defense.

The Oklahoma City Thunder were completely outplayed in Game 4 and they looked absolutely hopeless when they were down by 25 points in Game 5 until they rallied to pull out a 107-99 comeback win.

After back-to-back three-pointers from Russell Westbrook cut Utah's lead to 18 with 7:19 to go in the third - forcing Quinn Snyder to call a timeout and waking up a dormant crowd - I wrote in my notes, "Now or never". Paul George added 34 points as the Thunder outscored Utah 61-28 during the game's final 20 minutes. Everything was rolling early as Jae Crowder drained six threes to finish with 27 points off the bench, Donovan Mitchell added 23 points, Joe Ingles scored 16 points while Ricky Rubio chipped in with 10 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

But if the Thunder was going to get one at home and force Game 6, I don't know that anyone could have drawn up a better way for it to happen. They have big reputations to keep, a heavily-hyped season to save and quite possibly could lose George to free agency if they fizzle in the first round. And although Utah was shell-shocked from the latter half of the third quarter of Game 5 on, there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic. "We'll watch the film and figure out what went wrong".

This took place as the Jazz flatlined in the last two quarters, surprisingly coming after a shutdown second quarter, where they limited the Thunder to 12 points.

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The reigning MVP was the catalyst for a remarkable 31-7 run in the third quarter which saw the Thunder overcome their big deficit.

The hero: Russell Westbrook caught fire in the second half, ending up with 45 points in 44 minutes of work. Several players have expressed as much since the game's conclusion, but Donovan Mitchell didn't waste any time whatsoever making that confidence felt the instant the game had ended. If a 25-point lead isn't safe, what is?

Westbrook's drained another three-pointer tied the game 78-78 heading into the fourth quarter.

In Toronto, the Eastern Conference top seeds Raptors moved within one victory of advancing, taking a 3-2 series lead over the Washington Wizards with a 108-98 home win. The Thunder will need to go into Salt Lake City and win on a very home friendly court just to stay alive in the series. The overall plus-minus numbers make it hilariously clear who changed the game. As OKC was rallying from the 25-point hole, Anthony wasn't involved.

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