NBA: Westbrook scores 45 as Thunder stay alive against Jazz; James' 44pts help Cavs stun Pacers to take lead

Utah Jazz's Derrick Favors trying to block a shot against Oklahoma City Thunder player Russell Westbrook in the second half of their NBA Western Conference first-round play-off Game Five at Chesapeake Energy Arena on April 25, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

(REUTERS, AFP) - Russell Westbrook recorded 45 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder recovered from a 25-point, third-quarter deficit to stay alive in their National Basketball Association (NBA) first-round play-off series by posting a 107-99 victory over the visiting Utah Jazz on Wednesday (April 25) night.

Paul George added 34 points and eight rebounds as Oklahoma City cut Utah's lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2.

LeBron James nearly matched Westbrook's feat after draining a buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 98-95 victory over the Indiana Pacers and within one game of advancing in the play-offs.

He scored 44 points to lead the Cavs, who took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series and will try to close out the Pacers on Friday in Indianapolis.

The Thunder trailed by 25 with 8:34 left in the third quarter before exploding on a 32-7 burst to tie the score at 78 entering the final stanza. Oklahoma City then controlled the fourth quarter.

Jae Crowder made six three-pointers and had 27 points and eight rebounds for the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell tallied 23 points, Joe Ingles had 16, Rudy Gobert added 11 points and 10 rebounds and Ricky Rubio had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Game Six is on Friday at Salt Lake City.

Westbrook scored 33 points in the second half, and George had 21 after the break.

"Regardless of what is going on in the game, you have to give yourself a chance to win, and I thought our guys did a good job of that tonight,"Westbrook said.

"They did an amazing job of sticking together. ... "This series is all about momentum changes."

Oklahoma City held a three-point lead before George drained a trey to boost the lead to 105-99 with 2:05 left. Westbrook hit a jumper 41 seconds later to make it an eight-point margin and all but seal it.

The Jazz led by 15 at half-time and quickly grew the advantage to 71-46 after back-to-back three-pointers by Crowder.

"A 20-point lead in the NBA is not safe, (and) especially against guys like Russell Westbrook and Paul George," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, according to the Tulsa World.

Seconds before his game-winner, James blocked a driving Victor Oladipo's shot at the rim to keep the score knotted at 95-95.

Cleveland then got the ball to their superstar, who pulled up at the top of the arc and unleashed his shot over Thaddeus Young, his only three-pointer of the game.

James beat his chest in triumph, jumping on the scorers' table to acknowledge the rapturous crowd.

"As a kid, you always have those 3-2-1 moments," he said. "That's what it kind of felt like. It felt like I was a kid all over again, just playing basketball at my house. With makeshift hoops and my socks as a basketball and making the noise. So, that's what it felt like."

The Cavaliers, trying to return to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight season and add to the title they won in 2016, took their first lead of the series. But James stressed that they have plenty of work remaining against the Pacers.

In Toronto, DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and Kyle Lowry added 17, as the Raptors bounced back from defeats in games three and four against Washington .

In a game that featured 17 lead changes, neither team led by more than seven until the last two minutes.

Delon Wright scored 16 off the bench for Toronto, producing nine of their last 14 points of the game. He helped the Raptors withstand a 26-point, nine-rebound, eight-assist performance by Wizards guard John Wall.

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