Gordon Hayward almost hit the biggest shot of the game for the Utah Jazz Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he was just a few seconds too early.
G-Time made a clutch 3-pointer to tie the game at 95 with 10 seconds left, but moments later, Westbrook knocked down a mid-range jumper with 1.4 seconds to go, all but sealing OKC’s 97-95 win. Gordon tallied a team-high 17 points to go along with six rebounds, but afterward, he was left tipping his cap to the dynamic Thunder guard.
“At the end of the day, I think Westbrook got too good of a look,” Gordon said. “He seemed like he stepped right into a pull-up jumper. He is who he is. That’s why he’s one of the best in the game.”
G-Time scored Utah’s first points on a tough runner through a foul by Andre Roberson. Gordon knocked down the and-one opportunity to give the Jazz a 3-2 lead. The opening frame teetered back and forth with OKC taking a 27-26 advantage after 12 minutes.
The Jazz played at the Thunder’s pace in the second quarter as well. Utah briefly pulled ahead midway through the period, with Gordon giving the Jazz their last lead of the quarter, 46-44, with a pair of free throws at the 4:09 mark. However, OKC responded with a 12-1 run to earn a three-point, 56-53 edge at the break.
After playing fast early, the Jazz did it their way in the third, holding the Thunder to just 11 points to take control of the contest. OKC started the quarter with four straight points, but from 9:59 to 3:48, Utah held its opponent without a point. G-Time contributed on the defensive end during the run, including a steal that lead to Jazz free throws on the other end, and Utah sat on a five-point cushion, 72-67, through three quarters of play.
G-Time scored early in the fourth to push the Utah advantage to eight, 78-80. OKC scored the next five before Gordon hit again, this time from 3-point range. The Thunder pulled ahead late and set the course for a thrilling finish when Westbrook hit from beyond the arc with 3:05 to go.
Gordon turned in two key plays late for Utah. After a scramble and an offensive rebound for Utah, No. 20 dished down low to Rudy Gobert for a dunk to cut the OKC lead to one, 93-92, with 41 seconds remaining. Moments later, after a pair of Westbrook free throws, G-Time hit what had a chance to be the biggest shot of the game.
With the Jazz trailing 95-92, G-Time gave his team exactly what it needed: a game-tying 3-pointer. On an inbound play, Joe Ingles found Gordon curling off of a Gobert screen for a wide-open trey, and No. 20 knocked down the critical shot to tie it at 95.
Unfortunately, that just set the stage for Westbrook’s finish: a pull-up 20-footer to put the Thunder ahead by two. Alec Burks had one last chance for Utah, but his fallaway corner jumper just missed off the iron in a game that just got away from the Jazz, according to Hayward.
“It was a tough game for us,” Gordon said. “I felt like they made the plays when they needed to and we didn’t. It’s a frustrating one, but it’s one you have to try and let go and move on.”