OKLAHOMA CITY (ABC4 Sports) - Paul George scored 36 points to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Utah Jazz 116-108 in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series on Sunday night.
George set an Oklahoma City playoff record with eight 3-pointers, blowing past the previous record of five. He made eight of 11 shots from long range, and 13 of 20 shots overall. It was his first playoff game with the Thunder since being acquired in a trade with the Indiana Pacers in the offseason.
"He had a good night tonight," said Jazz forward Jae Crowder about George. "He's a great player obviously, but we just got to make it as tough as possible for him on the court. We'll give him some different looks for game two and make adjustments, but they made tough shots all night."
"He really really got it going offensively and he made some shots," said Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. "He was in a really really good groove."
This is the first time since mid-January that the Jazz have dropped two straight games. Utah lost its regular season finale Wednesday at Portland.
Russell Westbrook had 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists and Carmelo Anthony added 15 points for the Thunder, who will host Game 2 on Wednesday.
Mitchell had 27 points and 10 rebounds, but he left in the second half with left foot soreness. He returned in the fourth quarter but was noticeably hobbling. Mitchell had an X-ray, and doctors cleared him to return to the game. He said he was OK.
"I feel fine, I just stubbed my toe, nothing major," Mitchell said. "But as far as the game goes, we played well, they hit a lot of tough shots, we played great defense but I think Paul had eight 3's we just got to be locked a little more as a team and stay focused on the defensive end."
Rudy Gobert scored 14 points, and Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder each added 13 for the Jazz.
The Thunder recovered from a 16-4 deficit to tie it at 25 at the end of the first quarter. Oklahoma City led 54-48 at halftime behind 20 points from George and 14 from Westbrook.
George hit his seventh 3-pointer to push Oklahoma City's lead to 79-66. George hit a deep 2-pointer to close the quarter and give the Thunder an 81-72 lead.
Alex Abrines hit two 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to give Oklahoma City a 92-80 lead and force Utah to call timeout. The Thunder held off a surge in the final minute.
"You tip your hat to guys when they're able to hit contested jump shots," said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder. "We changed a few things up, we changed the matchups up in the second half. We trapped the pick and roll and they did a great job reacting to that."
Ricky Rubio, playing in the first playoff game of his 7-year NBA career, scored 13 points, had 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Joe Ingles added 13 points, while Exum had 10 points off the bench.
Game two is set for Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.
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