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The Jazz’s mental fortitude will be tested once more

After blowing a 25-point lead, the Jazz face another challenge in closing out the series.

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re reading this, you are probably still experiencing emotions from last night’s game. You’re probably feeling sad, angry, confused, concerned, or a mixture of all of them. I’m going to address this loss once, maybe just for a few paragraphs, and then I’m erasing it from my memory.

What in the world happened last night. The Jazz had it. Up 25 points in the third quarter, they had this series everything but completely wrapped up. They finally got some production from Jae Crowder, who was having himself a career night. They had shut down OKC’s offense and had every bit of momentum in their favor. After a phantom foul call that gave Rudy Gobert his fourth, taking him off the court, everything changed.

Russell Westbrook went absolutely ballistic. Last night’s game was a perfect example of why Russell Westbrook is the reigning MVP. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do what Russell Westbrook did last night. They were dead. Dead in the freaking water. No life on the court. No life in the crowd. Absolutely dead. Westbrook hit a couple of threes, and the rampage had begun. Once he starts going, you’d better A) find a way to stop him, or B) get out of the way. Once the Westbrook rampage train got rolling, you could see it in the Jazz’s eyes that they knew they could not stop it. 33 second-half points later, Westbrook had brought the Thunder back to life, and made this a series once again.

It’s a tough loss for the Jazz to take. The opportunity to close the series and advance to the next round was there. But it just didn’t happen. I don’t think the Jazz necessarily choked the lead away. It was really just an incredible performance from Russell Westbrook, you have got to give it to the man. They now face the tough task of trying to rebound mentally and get one more win to advance in the NBA playoffs.

Rebounding mentally is not something new to the Utah Jazz this season. They played a large chunk of the season without their anchor and captain, Rudy Gobert, who is also the front-runner for the Defensive Player of the Year. They rallied from a 19-28 record, battling their way into the playoff picture and defying all odds finishing as the fifth best team in the Western Conference with 48 wins. The Jazz aren’t even supposed to be here. They’re not supposed to be in the playoffs. They’re not supposed to have a 3-2 lead over a team that has the reigning MVP, a future hall of famer, and one of the best wings in the entire NBA. But yet, here we are.

The Jazz had nothing to lose in this series. They have played their hearts out and have fought every minute of these playoffs, and lead 3-2. They’ve proven everyone wrong all season, and they can certainly do it again.

They do have their work cut out for them, after letting Russell Westbrook go ham in game five. They will need to find some way to keep him contained. If Westbook plays like he did for the final 18 minutes last night, you can kiss this playoff series goodbye in favor of the Thunder.

Blowing the lead last night sucks. Losing in OKC sucks. But the Jaz are here. They have a chance to win a playoff series in front of their fans on a Friday night, in front of the world to see. Forget about what happened last night, and let’s go put this series to rest tomorrow night.

Reporters caught an interesting bit of a story yesterday when speaking to Jae Crowder pregame about Joe Ingles and talking smack.

I absolutely love this little story, mostly just because of how things have turned out since that game. I remember that moment when the Boston fans were cheering on Hayward. I remember thinking they were crazy if they thought that Hayward was leaving Utah. I also remember feeling a little bad for Jae Crowder, who obviously took it personal. But look where we are now. Hayward did indeed leave for Boston, Jae Crowder ends up in Utah, and both Joe and Jae can talk all the crap in the world now that they are on the same team. Things have worked out just fine, just like we all knew they would.

Shawn Kemp posted a cool piece in the Player’s Tribune, and had some Jazz ties in his words about the Seattle Super Sonics.

Stockton and Malone changed the game forever. Not just in Utah, but across the basketball world.

If you ever wondered what happening to Nigel Williams-Goss, the guard from Gonzaga that the Jazz drafted, well here you go.

Williams-Goss is just out there ballin in Serbia, nbd.

Depending on how you operate as a person, this will either get you pumped up, or make you worried. As Donovan Mitchell was leaving the court after last night’s loss, a fan got him on video with a simple yet incredibly awesome statement.

In case you’re confused (like lots of OKC fans in the comments of this tweet), Mitchell is implying that the Jazz will close out the series in SLC and not make the trip back to OKC.

I friggin love it. Smash this up and put it in my veins. That’s a competitor. Donovan Mitchell didn’t walk out of the arena with his head hanging low after blowing a 25-point lead. He looked excited. Excited to right the wrongs that happened in game five. This statment to an OKC fan gives me increased hope that the Jazz can close out the series in SLC on Friday.

Also, Mitchell’s going for 40.