Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: Donovan Mitchell scored 38 points, Friday, as the Utah Jazz beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 96-91 in Game 6 and set up the Western Conference semifinals with number one seeded Houston Rockets in a series that starts Sunday.
Donovan Mitchell became the third rookie in 35 years to have multiple 30-point games in a playoff series, joining Alonzo Mourning and Michael Jordan.
Donovan Mitchell also joined Lew Alcindor as the only rookies to score 20 points in each of their first six career playoff games over the last 50 years. Coming into the game, Mitchell and LeBron James shared the lead for most fourth-quarter points in the playoffs so far (44) but James had no points and Mitchell had six on Thursday.
Though the game got tight, Mitchell looked like he was having the time of his life.
At one point, Mitchell made 10 straight shots.
“I was in a different mode. It was crazy,” Mitchell said.
Russell Westbrook had 46 points for the Thunder and Steven Adams added 19 points and 16 rebounds.
Westbrook took 43 field goal attempts, with 19 coming from behind the line. Several ended up being airballs.
“For me, personally, beating a guy I looked up to and I model my game after is special,” Mitchell said of Westbrook.
Derrick Favors scored 13 points and Rudy Gobert had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz, who lost starting point guard Ricky Rubio to a left hamstring injury in the first quarter.
Derrick Favors went 1 for 7 from the free throw line and the Jazz shot 12 of 23 overall.
Alec Burks, who hadn’t played more than three minutes in a game during the series, scored 11 points for the Jazz in 17 minutes.
The Jazz took their biggest lead when Gobert hit two free throws to make it 86-73 with 7:04 remaining.
Westbrook’s 3-pointer capped an 18-6 run and drew Oklahoma City to 92-91 with 1:28 to play.
“We got stops and Russ made big play after big play,” Paul George said.
Paul George had a playoff-low five points.
Favors hit a jumper for the Jazz but then the Thunder corralled five offensive rebounds in a frantic possession where Oklahoma City missed five shots. After a review, George faked Gobert into the air behind the 3-point line and leaned in but didn’t get the call and shot an airball.
“I think it could have been called both ways,” Gobert acknowledged.
Mitchell scampered down the court as the Thunder yelled at the officials and eventually made two free throws with 6.9 seconds left to clinch the game.
In the third quarter, Mitchell scored 22 points to boost the Jazz into a double-digit lead. The rookie scored on electrifying drives to the basket, spinning shots in the lane and rainbow 3-pointers.
“He’s been a team-first guy and sometimes the team needs a guy to take things on his shoulders. In the third quarter, obviously, he was dynamic,” Coach Snyder said.
The Jazz were shooting from unfamiliar spots and connected on just 39 percent in the first half.
Oklahoma City led by as many as nine before the Jazz tied it at 41 at halftime.
EARLIER: NBA Playoffs: Rockets Beat Timberwolves (122-104) In Game 5, Win Series 4-1 – Houston, Texas,USA: The Houston Rockets defeated Minnesota Timberwolves, 122-104, closing out their first-round series 4-1, in Game 5 of the NBA Playoffs Western Conference First Round – at the Toyota Center in Houston, Wednesday .
Derrick Rose and Jamal Crawford helped the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 10 point lead over the Rockets early in the 1st half but the Rockets cut the deficit and the half ended 59-55 (advantage Minnesota) with Minnesota shooting 70% from 3 point range.
Minnesota’s Jeff Teague led all scorers in the 1st half with 14 points and 5 assists.
Karl-Anthony Towns added 13 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1st half
For the Rockets, in the first half, Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza had 13 points with Capela adding 8 rebounds and Ariza had 3 three points made.
James Harden and Chris Paul both had a quiet Ist half as 37 of Rockets 55 1st half points came from Capela, Ariza and Eric Gordon.
After a slow first half, the Rockets began the third quarter with an 8-0 run to go on top 65-61.
The Rockets led 85-74 going into the fourth quarter with James Harden scoring 15 points in the third on 5-of-9 shooting. James Harden had only 5 points in the first half.
With 3 minutes remaining, Rockets already had 17 3-pointers (five by P.J. Tucker), their fourth-consecutive game with at least 15 to tie the Cavaliers’ post-season record.
The game ended 122-104, Rockets win with Clint Capela leading all scorers with 26 points, 15 rebound, 2 steals, 2 blocks while Harden ended with 24 points, 12 assists, Chris Paul: 12 points, 9 assists and Eric Gordon: 19 points
Houston shot 18 of 44 from long distance and only committed five turnovers.
James Harden on series win: “This is a pretty good step in the right direction, but we got a long way to go.”
For Minnesota, Towns had 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds and four assists in Game 5.
The Rockets will get some rest before the next round – Western Conference semifinals – when they’ll play the winner of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City Thunder series.