SALT LAKE CITY – With a full arena chanting his name, Ricky Rubio recorded a triple-double as he led the Jazz to a 115-102 win over Oklahoma City Saturday night. The 26-point, 11-rebound and 10 assist performance was the first triple-double for the franchise in 10 years and gave the Jazz a 2-1 series lead.
It was the first time a Jazz player recorded a triple-double in the postseason since John Stockton did it on April 28, 2001. Rubio called it “an honor” to have his name next to the Jazz legend.
“It’s huge,” he said. “I have huge respect for him and playing here was great because I know how big of a point guard he was for this franchise. I feel great.”
Head coach Quin Snyder said Rubio’s performance was one of the reasons his team was able to win.
“He attacked, but with poise,” Snyder said. “…It really stabilized our group.”
Rubio’s 26 points were a game high, but all five Jazz starters were able to score in double figures with Donovan Mitchell scoring 22 and Joe Ingles adding 21. Paul George led Oklahoma City’s scoring effort with 23 points while Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton and Russell Westbrook added 14 each.
Utah led 20-12 early on, but found itself trailing 30-22 after the Thunder finished the first quarter on an 18-2 run, which included four 3-pointers – three of them from players off the bench.
Oklahoma City’s hot shooting continued as the Thunder stretched its lead to 12, but it wasn’t long after that Rubio got going. He scored 15 in a stretch where the Jazz outscored OKC 25-8, giving the Jazz a 58-53 at the half.
Rubio said once his team fell behind by 10, he knew the team had to “bring it.”
“I think I just changed my mentality,” he said, “trying to be more aggressive when I made some shots, made a run, and that helped a lot making shots. It felt great.”
But the momentum didn’t stick, and shifted to the Thunder after the half. After a quick putback bucket by Gobert to begin the third, a Westbrook 3-pointer kicked off a 10-0 OKC run, which gave the Thunder a short-lived lead. Utah responded with nine-straight points, including five from Mitchell. The lead hit 14 at the end of the quarter when Rubio hit a buzzer-beating trey.
The Thunder made one last comeback attempt, cutting Utah’s 14-point lead in half early in the fourth, but never got any closer. Thanks, in part, to eight-straight points by Ingles the Jazz were able to build a 20-point advantage before coasting to the finish.
“The way we play, its a lot easier to shoot open shots,” Ingles said. “We move the ball so well. We’ve got such an unselfish team so it makes it fun.”
Mitchell said he isn’t expecting to see a desperate Thunder team when game No. 4 happens Monday night, but is expecting more physicality.
“We’ve just got to understand it’ll be a long game next game and they’ll come out with more aggression,” he said. “If we withstand that run we’ll be in good shape.”