Paul George scores 36, leads Thunder past Jazz

The Oklahoma City Thunder criticized a broadcaster Thursday for using the term "cotton-picking" to describe Russell Westbrook's play in the team's season finale.

New Zealand centre Adams scored 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds - both slightly down on his regular season average - as the Thunder prevailed 116-108 at home.

"I'm going to bring it to that level on a nightly basis", George said. "I wouldn't credit it to the win streak though".

"The confidence comes from that, more than anything".

George was incredible in his playoff debut for the Thunder.

The five-time All-Star finished with a game-high 36 points in Sunday's first-round Game 1 win. This is what the Thunder envisioned when they traded for George last summer, giving up Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. But Adams has been a vital part of the formula in 2017-18, with some pundits tagging him OKC's second most important performer behind Westbrook. After a 5-0 Jazz spurt cut the Thunder lead to 56-53 early in the third period, George knocked down back-to-back threes, one as his defender fell in front of him and another when Westbrook wisely pushed the tempo in transition and found George for an open jumper.

"We knew all along that we got multiple guys that can make plays, create and be explosive offensively", George said.

Mitchell had 27 points and 10 rebounds, but he left in the second half with left foot soreness. Once we relaxed, started to play our game, we buckled down defensively.

"If people could get 20 rebounds every night, they would".

Utah, boosted by Rookie of the Year candidate Donovan Mitchell and the return of big man Rudy Gobert, comes in on a 17-4 tear.

Adams and Gobert have put up almost identical numbers on the offensive end this year, but Gobert is averaging 1.3 more blocks per game and he ranks number one in the league in defensive real plus-minus.

George went 8 of 14 from 3-point range against the Grizzlies last week, and he came back even hotter Sunday.

The Jazz, simply, will not beat themselves. This alone shows what makes the Thunder's experiment this year so hard, but it worked, at least as far as getting them home court. Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area reported Wednesday that ESPN's Zach Lowe said on Lowe's podcast that some coaches and GMs expressed that they would rather face the Warriors in the first round than the Jazz or the Oklahoma City Thunder.

  • Julie Sanders