Ricky Rubio waited seven years for a night like this.
Rubio [url=http://www.ravenscheapstores.com/matt-judon-jersey-cheap]Matt Judon Jersey[/url] , who never reached the playoffs in his first six seasons with Minnesota, had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for Utah’s first playoff triple-double in 17 years to help lead the Jazz to a 115-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.
”We were down by 10 … and I just changed my mentality, trying to be more aggressive and make some shots,” Rubio said. ”We made a run and it helps a lot when you’re making shots and it felt great.”
At one point, Rubio walked toward half-court with his arms outstretched, drinking in the deafening roar and subsequent ”RU-BI-O! RU-BI-O!” chants from the fans.
Donovan Mitchell added 22 points for Utah, which took a 2-1 lead in its first-round series with Oklahoma City.
Rubio has never been known as a knockdown shooter, but his recent accuracy has opened new opportunities for his playmaking.
”Ricky attacked,” Utah coach Quin Snyder. ”He attacked, but with poise and he was making some shots. I thought he took good shots and it really stabilized our group.”
The Spaniard has previously recorded five triple-doubles in his career and has played in big EuroLeague and Olympic games, but different than the energy and pressure of the NBA playoffs.
”He was on, in so many ways [url=http://www.saintscheapstore.com/patrick-robinson-jersey-cheap]Patrick Robinson Jersey[/url] ,” Mitchell said.
Joe Ingles, who had 21 points, made two 3-pointers around two free throws to spark a 13-0 surge that ended on Mitchell’s 3 to put Utah up by 20 points in the fourth quarter. The big run was just par for the course in a series characterized by large runs by one team, then countered by the other.
Rubio’s triple-double was the first by a Jazz player in the postseason since John Stockton in the 2001 playoffs against Dallas.
”Having my name next to his name is an honor,” Rubio said of joining the Hall of Famer in making franchise history. ”I have huge respect for him.”
Paul George scored 23 points and Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Raymond Felton each had 14 for the Thunder. Westbrook also had 11 rebounds and nine assists, just missing his ninth playoff triple-double but also had eight turnovers and shot 5 for 17.
Rudy Gobert’s dunk and pair of free throws capped a 9-0 run in the third quarter to give Utah an 84-70 lead. Minutes later, Rubio hit a running 28-foot 3-pointer to make it 89-75 entering the final period.
The Jazz changed coverages on Westbrook throughout the game and surprised the perennial All-Star with different players in his expected passing lanes.
Utah also outrebounded the Thunder 48-33 and seemed much quicker to the loose balls in the midst of a charged atmosphere. The Jazz’s hustle plays energized the packed arena festooned in the colors of Southern Utah – red, orange and yellow.
With Utah trailing 47-43, Rubio scored 10 consecutive Jazz points and his 3-pointer and subsequent three free throws gave Utah a 53-49 lead.
Rubio, playing just his third playoff game in his seven-year NBA career, had 19 at the half and the Jazz led 58-53.
The Thunder, shot 16 for 24 on field goals and 7 for 11 on 3s [url=http://www.chargerscheapstore.com/travis-benjamin-jersey-cheap]Travis Benjamin Jersey[/url] , to lead 45-33 on Westbrook’s layup with 7:26 left in the second quarter.
Asked if the Rubio might have an encore in Game 4, Westbrook defiantly declared that he would shut down any chance of that happening.
”Guarantee that!” Westbrook said.
Thunder: Oklahoma City was outscored 30-14 after Adams sat down with his third foul early in the second quarter. … Both Adams and Mitchell picked up their fourth fouls in the first half of the third quarter. … Adams finished with two rebounds. … The Thunder shot 14 for 28 from 3-point range.
Jazz: Utah started the game by converting nine of its first 10 shots, then missed eight of the next nine. … Royce O’Neale and George each got technicals for some pushing and words early in the fourth quarter. … Carlos Boozer had the last triple-double for the Jazz in 2008, but it came in the regular season. … Utah had 19 second-chance points to the Thunder’s eight.
Ingles, who was a primary cog in Utah’s offense as the Jazz got better and better throughout the season, was nearly invisible in the first two games against the defense of George. After only 16 total points and three assists in Oklahoma City, Ingles provided the offensive firepower down the stretch. ”I thought Joe just had a more aggressive mindset tonight,” Snyder said. ”Joe just threw himself into the defensive end as well. When you do that, your offense kind of comes more naturally.”
WESTBROOK OUT OF SORTS?
Westbrook didn’t take a shot in the fourth quarter, but said he doesn’t have any specific physical injury. Some of his eight turnovers happened when he was headed to the rim with Gobert looming. ”I’m getting in trouble jumping in the air and getting caught,” he said. Perhaps Gobert’s defensive presence is making one of the game’s most instinctive players think twice. ”I just try to make them think. Everyone in the league knows that I protect the rim. I know that they know,” Gobert said.
Rubio arrived at the arena Saturday wearing a sweatshirt with the `Friends’ sitcom logo. A team that emphasizes ”connectivity”, the Jazz moved in concert on offense and passes – even long skip passes – arrived in shooters’ sweet spots ready for launch. In the postgame press conference [url=http://www.packerscheapstore.com/jason-spriggs-jersey-cheap]Jason Spriggs Jersey[/url] , Rubio joked that he knew he was close to a triple-double, but Ingles missed a layup on purpose to t
ST. LOUIS — The Arizona Coyotes, sporting the Western Conference’s worst record, haven’t exactly been world beaters this season, except when it comes to the St. Louis Blues.
The Coyotes pounded the Blues 6-0 on Saturday night in Phoenix, the most lopsided loss of the season for St. Louis. Arizona also beat the Blues 5-2 in Jan. 20 in St. Louis and the Blues had to rally for a 3-2 shootout victory at home on Nov. 9.
Blues coach Mike Yeo said something looked missing from the Blues.
“First off, I will say there were times where it looked like, yeah, we didn’t have the energy to have the gap or to be strong enough on the forecheck, whatever the case is,” Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“But we are certainly not going to allow that to be a factor, be an excuse here. You’re not allowed to be tired this time of year. That’s the bottom line.
“We’ve played the same amount of games in the same amount of time as everybody else now. We’ve got ourselves still in a good position. This is a frustrating, disappointing one. But we’re still in a good position and now we have to recharge tomorrow and get ready for the next one.”
Though the Coyotes have posted one of the league’s best records recently [url=http://www.49erscheapstore.com/george-kittle-jersey-cheap]George Kittle Jersey[/url] , 16-8-2 since Feb. 7, time is running out for excuses for a Blues team fighting for their playoff life.
The Blues (43-29-6, 92 points) trail the Colorado Avalanche by one point for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, but the Avalanche have played one more game than St. Louis.
The Blues’ regular season ends on April 7 at Colorado in a game that could ultimately decide which team gets into the postseason.
But the Blues have three games before then, including hosting the Washington Capitals on Monday night.
“We got to look in the mirror tonight, tomorrow, recharge and get ready for Monday because they’re gonna be coming,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo told the Post-Dispatch.
Washington beat visiting St. Louis 4-3 in overtime on Jan. 7.
The Capitals are coming off a 3-1 victory over the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Sunday night. The win clinched the third straight Metropolitan Division title for Washington.
“That goes to the guys in the room and all the guys that put in the work all year,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told reporters. “Obviously a tough summer for us as an organization and just getting some traction getting out of the gates was as tough as it’s been and I think we sort of grew together. We understood what we might have to be just to get into the playoffs. The guys had a good push just to get us into this position and not fighting in the back end, which most people thought we would be this year.”
T.J. Oshie, Dmitry Orlov and Tim Wilson scored and Philipp Grubauer made 36 saves for the Capitals (47-25-7, 101 points) in the win over the Penguins.
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