OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma — Paul George unleashed “Playoff P” on Sunday, scoring 36 points to help Oklahoma City defeat Utah 116-108 in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series Sunday night.
“We just found a way to just calm down, kind of relax a little bit,” said Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony. “I thought that we had a lot of adrenaline early on in the game, a lot of excitement coming in the playoffs and Game 1 on our court. Once we relaxed, started to play our game, we buckled down defensively. We found what we wanted offensively.”
George set an Oklahoma City playoff record with eight 3-pointers, connecting on eight of 11 shots from long range, and 13 of 20 shots overall. The Thunder pulled themselves back into the game after falling 16-4 in first quarter – before George and Westbrook took over. Paul George scored 20 of his 32 points in the first half, while Westbrook added 14.
“He made a couple and we changed up what we were doing, and he went to something else,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “He went to pick-and-roll and he made a couple more, and then we tried to take him and he passed the ball.”
Russell Westbrook had 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists on the night and Melo (scored his 1,700th playoff point) added 15 points for the Thunder, who will host Game 2 on Wednesday.
“If those shots start to affect you, then the whole game plan goes away,” said rookie Donovan Mitchell, who led the Jazz with 27 points and 10 rebounds. “So we just kept sticking with it, and hopefully, he doesn’t go 8 for 11 the rest of the series. But we played great defense, and we are proud of that.”
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) 15 april 2018
Rudy Gobert scored 14 points, and Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder each added 13 for the Jazz.
Written by Andrew Mitchell for Woodlawn Post Sports