‘Play­off P’ gets job done as OKC down Jazz

The Southland Times - - SPORT - BAS­KET­BALL

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.

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