‘Playoff P’ gets job done as OKC down Jazz
Paul George promised ‘‘Playoff P’’ before this series, and the Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star delivered with the defining performance in a game-one victory over the Utah Jazz.
George splashed a personal best, and OKC-record, eight threepointers from 11 attempts as Steven Adams’ Thunder drew first blood in what is expected to be a tough first-round Western Conference series with a 116-108 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
He had told reporters in the lead-in: ‘‘Y’all haven’t met Playoff P yet, huh? Man, it’s a fun guy to watch. It’s an out-of-body person where I just lock in and put myself into a different zone.’’
Sure enough, George led all scorers with 36 points on a brutally efficient 13-of-20 shooting, added seven rebounds and also played excellent lock-down defence on key Jazz small forward Joe Ingles as the Thunder’s highly touted offseason addition proved as good as his word in the all-important series opener. Of course he had a little help from Russell Westbrook, with Mr Triple-Double not about to be left in too much shade now the playoffs have rolled around.
Westbrook added 29 points (10/25 FG, 9/9 FT), 13 rebounds and eight assists in an exhilarating duel with Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell who paced the visitors with 27 points and 10 rebounds before being slowed late with a toe injury.
Adams was happy to take a supporting role through the first half, but was able to get his offence rolling late in the contest when he connected on a couple of alley-oop dunks with Westbrook, and also tapped in a miss from his point guard.
The 24-year-old Kiwi finished with 12 points on four-of-nine shooting as well as seven rebounds and three assists. He also went four of six from the free-throw line.
Adams’ battle with Utah centre Rudy Gobert finished with honours relatively even. The big Frenchman had 14 points (6/8 FG), seven rebounds and a pair of blocks.