It was only an hour before the game when it was confirmed that Donovan Mitchell was in a position to play for the Jazz in the second game of the postseason series against Oklahoma City.
The Thunder would surely have preferred that the escort be absent.
Despite a blow to the left foot, rookie Donovan Mitchell scored 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to help Utah beat Oklahoma City 102-95 on Wednesday, tied for a win by the series of first-round playoffs in the Western Conference.
“I think he felt pain, but he did not show it and he could stand it to play,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder.
Derrick Favors set a personal playoff record with 20 points and 16 rebounds for the Jazz, while Ricky Rubio contributed 22 points, nine assists and seven boards to win his first postseason game in seven years in the NBA.
Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds for the Thunder. Paul George, who scored 36 points in the first game, finished with 18 on 6 of 21 shots. Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points, but barely made six of 18 shots.
“We just have to be aggressive,” said Westbrook. “We shot and we failed. The shots will enter. Those guys (George and Anthony) are amazing scorers, and we’ve trusted them all season. They will continue to achieve that. “
Utah beat Oklahoma City in rebounds 56-46 to take the home lead in the series. The third game will be Saturday in Utah.
Oklahoma City had two last-minute chances to discount the Jazz’s 99-95 lead, but Anthony missed 3-pointers in offensives in a row.
Utah came at halftime with a 53-46 lead thanks to Rubio’s 12 points and 10 points with eight Favors rebounds. Oklahoma City scored just nine of 25 shots inside the triple line in the first half.