UTA
OKC

No Text

"Playoff P" Paul George scores 36, leads Thunder past Jazz

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) On Saturday, Thunder forward Paul George told reporters about an alter-ego he calls ''Playoff P.'' On Sunday, he gave the media, his teammates and the Utah Jazz a formal introduction.

He scored 36 points to help Oklahoma City defeat Utah 116-108 in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series Sunday night.

''That's his new name?'' seemingly perplexed teammate Carmelo Anthony asked with a smile.

George lived up to it. He set an Oklahoma City playoff record with eight 3-pointers, blowing past the previous mark 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 in the offseason. He had averaged more than 27 points per game in the playoffs for the Pacers the past two years.

''I'm going to bring it to that level every night,'' George said. ''Obviously, I was hot tonight, but that's the level I'm going to bring every night.''

Russell Westbrook had 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists and Anthony added 15 points for the Thunder, who will host Game 2 on Wednesday.

Westbrook, who seemingly was Oklahoma City's only scoring option for much of last season, appreciated the help.

''When he's aggressive, man, it changes the game for us,'' Westbrook said. ''You saw that tonight. He had it going. Our job is to make sure we find him, make it easy for him. As long as he stays aggressive, we'll be a better team.''

Many of George's makes were contested. His success made it difficult for the Jazz to cover other players.

''He made a couple and we changed up what we were doing, and he went to something else,'' Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. ''He went to pick-and-roll and he made a couple more, and then we tried to take him and he passed the ball.''

Utah doesn't expect George to keep making those tough shots.

''If those shots start to affect you, then the whole game plan goes away,'' said rookie Donovan Mitchell, who led the Jazz with 27 points and 10 rebounds. ''So we just kept sticking with it, and hopefully, he doesn't go 8 for 11 the rest of the series. But we played great defense, and we are proud of that.''

Mitchell left the game in the second half with left foot soreness. He returned, but played sporadically.

''I feel fine,'' he said. ''Think I just stubbed my toe. Nothing major.''

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. He 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.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Mitchell made his first four shots, but just one of six the rest of the first half. ... Made just eight of 22 shots in the second quarter. ... Dante Exum and Alec Burks each scored 10 points.

Thunder: G Corey Brewer, who was questionable with a right knee sprain, started. ... Anthony scored his 1,700th playoff point. ... Oklahoma City made its first 17 free throws and didn't miss one until the final minute.

QUOTABLE

Mitchell on why he was taken out of the game in the fourth quarter: ''I was just limping, so the trainers saw me limping and they thought I needed to come out, but I was just being a baby, so I'm good.''

STAT LINES

George's outburst is significant because in Oklahoma City's five-game playoff series with Houston last season, no Thunder player other than Westbrook scored more than 20 points in a game. Westbrook averaged 37.4 points in the series, but no other Thunder player averaged more than 11.6.

UP NEXT

Game 2 will be Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.

---

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

---

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
D. Mitchell
45 SG
R. Westbrook
0 PG
36.4 Min. Per Game 36.4
25.4 Pts. Per Game 25.4
10.3 Ast. Per Game 10.3
10.1 Reb. Per Game 10.1
43.8 Field Goal % 44.8
43.7 Three Point % 44.8
80.6 Free Throw % 74.1
  Defensive rebound by Raymond Felton 0:13
  Dante Exum missed driving layup 0:15
  Defensive rebound by Alec Burks 0:19
  Carmelo Anthony missed 2nd of 2 free throws 0:21
+ 1 Carmelo Anthony made 1st of 2 free throws 0:21
  Personal foul on Raul Neto 0:21
  Team rebound 0:23
  Jae Crowder missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:27
+ 1 Steven Adams made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:34
  Steven Adams missed 1st of 2 free throws 0:34
  Team rebound 0:34
Team Stats
Points 108 116
Field Goals 41-87 (47.1%) 41-85 (48.2%)
3-Pointers 11-28 (39.3%) 14-29 (48.3%)
Free Throws 15-20 (75.0%) 20-23 (87.0%)
Total Rebounds 46 52
Offensive 9 9
Defensive 33 37
Team 4 6
Assists 18 16
Steals 10 8
Blocks 7 5
Turnovers 14 17
Fouls 21 19
Technicals 0 0
27 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST
29 PTS, 13 REB, 8 AST
1234T
away team logo Jazz 0-1 25232436108
home team logo Thunder 1-0 25292735116
Team Stats
away team logo Jazz 0-1 107.3 PPG 42.2 RPG 23.2 APG
home team logo Thunder 1-0 111.0 PPG 46.8 RPG 21.6 APG
Key Players
D. Mitchell SG 21.2 PPG 2.7 RPG 4.0 APG 40.8 FG%
P. George SF 23.5 PPG 7.6 RPG 4.6 APG 41.7 FG%
Top Scorers
D. Mitchell SG 27 PTS 10 REB 3 AST
P. George SF 36 PTS 7 REB 0 AST
47.1 FG% 48.2
39.3 3PT FG% 48.3
75.0 FT% 87.0
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Mitchell 34 27 10 3 2 1 1 1 11/22 3/7 2/2 1 9 45 -9
R. Gobert 35 14 7 1 0 2 3 4 6/8 0/0 2/6 4 3 22 -5
R. Rubio 31 13 7 5 4 1 3 2 5/18 0/3 3/3 2 5 32 -2
J. Ingles 31 13 2 1 0 0 2 5 5/9 3/5 0/0 1 1 15 -6
D. Favors 30 7 5 3 0 2 1 1 3/7 0/0 1/1 1 4 19 -12
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Mitchell 34 27 10 3 2 1 1 1 11/22 3/7 2/2 1 9 45 -9
R. Gobert 35 14 7 1 0 2 3 4 6/8 0/0 2/6 4 3 22 -5
R. Rubio 31 13 7 5 4 1 3 2 5/18 0/3 3/3 2 5 32 -2
J. Ingles 31 13 2 1 0 0 2 5 5/9 3/5 0/0 1 1 15 -6
D. Favors 30 7 5 3 0 2 1 1 3/7 0/0 1/1 1 4 19 -12
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Crowder 27 13 4 2 2 0 1 1 3/10 3/9 4/4 0 4 22 -4
A. Burks 2 10 2 0 0 0 0 1 4/4 2/2 0/0 0 2 12 +5
D. Exum 18 10 1 2 0 0 3 1 4/6 0/0 2/2 0 1 12 -1
R. O'Neale 20 1 2 0 2 1 0 3 0/1 0/1 1/2 0 2 6 -9
J. Jerebko 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 0 2 -7
E. Udoh 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 +5
R. Neto 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 2 2 +5
T. Sefolosha - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Niang - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. McCree - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Stockton - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Bradley - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 235 108 42 18 10 7 14 21 41/87 11/28 15/20 9 33 189 -40
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
P. George 37 36 7 0 1 0 4 2 13/20 8/11 2/2 2 5 40 +3
R. Westbrook 37 29 13 8 1 0 5 4 10/25 0/4 9/9 1 12 54 -1
C. Anthony 37 15 7 2 3 2 3 2 5/13 2/7 3/4 0 7 28 +1
S. Adams 36 12 7 3 0 0 0 1 4/9 0/0 4/6 4 3 25 -4
C. Brewer 33 7 3 1 2 1 1 3 2/3 1/1 2/2 2 1 14 -3
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
P. George 37 36 7 0 1 0 4 2 13/20 8/11 2/2 2 5 40 +3
R. Westbrook 37 29 13 8 1 0 5 4 10/25 0/4 9/9 1 12 54 -1
C. Anthony 37 15 7 2 3 2 3 2 5/13 2/7 3/4 0 7 28 +1
S. Adams 36 12 7 3 0 0 0 1 4/9 0/0 4/6 4 3 25 -4
C. Brewer 33 7 3 1 2 1 1 3 2/3 1/1 2/2 2 1 14 -3
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
A. Abrines 21 11 2 0 0 0 1 2 4/7 3/5 0/0 0 2 12 +14
J. Grant 14 4 4 2 1 1 2 1 2/4 0/0 0/0 0 4 12 +12
R. Felton 11 2 1 0 0 1 1 1 1/4 0/1 0/0 0 1 3 +9
P. Patterson 7 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 2 2 +6
T. Ferguson 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 +3
K. Singler - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Roberson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Johnson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Huestis - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Dozier - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Hamilton - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
N. Collison - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 235 116 46 16 8 5 17 19 41/85 14/29 20/23 9 37 190 +40