Russell Westbrook Leads Epic Thunder Comeback to Stay Alive vs. Jazz in Game 5

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 25: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder excites the crowd before the game against the Utah Jazz in Game Five of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2018 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

The Oklahoma City Thunder aren't done yet. 

Despite trailing by 25 points in the third quarter of Wednesday night's Game 5, the Thunder stormed back behind a sensational outing from point guard Russell Westbrook and defeated the Utah Jazz, 107-99, at Chesapeake Energy Arena. 

Westbrook, who finished with 45 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, experienced an awakening in the second half. He dropped 20 points in the third quarter as the Thunder went on a 32-7 run to tie the game at 78 entering the final frame.

Incidentally, a significant portion of that production came with Jazz center and rim-protector extraordinaire Rudy Gobert glued to the bench because of foul trouble. 

Gobert stayed pinned to the pine until 7:58 remained in regulation, but by that point, the Thunder refused to relinquish control. 

Westbrook kept his foot on the gas with 13 points in the fourth quarter to cap off one of the most unforgettable outings of his career, ensuring Oklahoma City would live to fight for at least one more game. 

Paul George was the only other Thunder scorer who finished in double figures, and his contributions proved massive. 

In a team-high 45 minutes, George piled up 34 points on 12-of-26 shooting, eight rebounds and two steals while cranking up his defensive intensity on the perimeter against a Jazz attack that was firing on all cylinders throughout the first half. 

As Yahoo Sports' Michael Lee noted, George and Westbrook looked like entirely different players after the break as they fought to stave off elimination: 

Now back from the brink, the Thunder will have a chance to even the series at three games apiece Friday in Salt Lake City. 

The Jazz, meanwhile, have to pick themselves up to avoid the lingering effects of a crippling loss. 

Although Utah appeared headed for a fourth straight win and a smooth trip into Round 2 after Jae Crowder (27 points) and Joe Ingles (16 points) caught fire early, the Thunder used Gobert's prolonged absence to their advantage and sent the Jazz scrambling. 

Gobert was the only Jazz player to finish with a positive mark in the plus/minus column, as Utah outscored OKC by seven points when he was on the floor. Because he was limited to 30 minutes—his fewest of the series—the Thunder mounted a 44-32 edge when it came to points in the paint. 

OKC can only hope for a repeat performance when Game 6 tips off at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Friday.  

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