Mitchell’s Missed Free Throw Proves Costly In Jazz Loss

Dec 22, 2018, 9:52 PM | Updated: Dec 24, 2018, 12:41 pm
klahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) is charged with a foul as Utah Jazz guard Donovan ...
klahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) is charged with a foul as Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) goes to the hoop, cueing up two free-throws with 1.5 seconds on the board and the Jazz trailing by two points in the game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. (Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz narrowly lost to the Oklahoma City 107-106, snapping the Jazz’s two game winning streak.

After blowing out Portland the night before, perhaps it was the challenge of playing the second game of a back-to-back that doomed the Jazz.

But still, the Jazz were in it up to the last second.

After going for a huge dunk and being fouled by Russell Westbrook with 1.7 seconds remaining in the game, Donovan Mitchell had the opportunity to shoot free throws to tie the game. Unfortunately for Utah, he missed the first and most important shot. He made the second, but it wasn’t the one that Utah needed as Oklahoma City simply inbounded the ball and dribbled out the remaining time to secure the win.

“I thought it was in,” said Mitchell on the first free throw after the game. “It was just in and out.”

After the game, head coach Quin Snyder admitted that Mitchell was trying to miss the second free throw to give somebody a chance to tip the ball in for the win.

Unfortunately, the ball went in.

George’s Big Third Quarter Put OKC Ahead, But Jazz Finish Strong

The Thunder were boosted by the performance of Paul George, who finished with a game-high 43 points with 14 rebounds to complete the double-double.

Most of George’s damage came in the third quarter, with the Thunder trailing in the beginning period, as he scored 22 points in that period alone.

Up to then, the Jazz were leading most of the game.

But thanks to George’s explosive third quarter, the Jazz were forced to play from behind in the fourth. The Thunder were up by nine with about three and a half minutes remaining when Utah made its strong comeback push with a 9-1 run to end the game. Several big stops on defense helped put the Jazz in position for the fateful free throws at the end of the game.

That was Snyder’s main takeaway after the game.

“I think that the takeaway on the positive side of the ledger is how we defended in the fourth quarter,” said Snyder. “Our defense improved. In the first half, we had some possessions where we we’re quite alert enough in transition.”

George’s teammate and former league MVP Russell Westbrook struggled in the game, scoring just eights and fouling out on the last-second play on Mitchell’s dunk attempt.

By The Numbers

Mitchell finished with 20 points and nearly had a double-double with nine rebounds.

Rudy Gobert turned in a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Up Next

The Jazz will next have the opportunity to play on the national stage when they host Portland on Christmas Day. The game will tip off at 8:30 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPN.

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