Jazz survive Thunder, advance past first round

The Jazz faced a near must win Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, needing to win a pivotal game six to avoid returning to OKC for a winner takes all game seven. The Jazz did exactly that, riding the back of rookie superstar Donovan Mitchell, who finished the game with a playoff career high 38 points, 22 of which came in a staggering third quarter.

The Jazz appeared tight coming out of the gate, scoring a series low 18 points, but trailed by just four points after one. The Jazz pulled even going into the half when Mitchell appeared to find his rhythm on a last second layup to even the score at 41.

From there Mitchell went supernova, and nearly singlehandedly won the Jazz the series, out-dueling Russell Westbrook’s 20 point third quarter on the way to victory. Westbrook in a near repeat of game five, scored 46 points on an incredible 43 shot attempts, and sunk 7 of his 19 three point attempts.

The Jazz were without Ricky Rubio for the majority of the game after reaggravating a hamstring injury in the first quarter, and finished the game with zero points and three assists in seven minutes. The Jazz tried Dante Exum in Rubio’s absence, but replaced him with Alec Burks after just three minutes. Burks came up big despite playing limited minutes throughout the series and finished with 11 points in 17 minutes.

Despite an otherwise tremendous series from Paul George, the pending free agent scored just five points on 2-16 shooting, and missed all of his six three point attempts.

The Jazz will advance to face the Houston Rockets in a series beginning in Houston on Sunday. The Jazz were swept 4-0 by the Rockets in the regular season series, losing every game by double digits.

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