Donovan Mitchell Dazzles In Historic Jazz Win

Aug 23, 2020, 11:13 PM | Updated: Aug 24, 2020, 9:07 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz once again rode their young superstar to victory. In a pivotal game four, Donovan Mitchell turned in a 51 point performance, his second 50-plus point outing in the series for the Jazz in the 129-127 win. With the victory, the team took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets.

Mitchell got his scoring started early and never relented against the Nuggets, finishing with 13 points after the first quarter, 22 points at the half, 33 points after the first quarter, and 51 to finish the game.

Mitchell helped the Jazz secure the win, scoring 16 of the team’s final 22 points of the night. The guard assisted on a Rudy Gobert dunk to dominate the Nuggets for the third time in four outings. The All-Star guard is averaging a jaw-dropping 39.5 points per game against Denver to give the Jazz the series lead.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder didn’t mince any words when speaking about Mitchell’s performance in the Jazz win.

“He’s a terrific player,” Snyder said. “I think the way that he answered everything that was going on early and was able to pick his spots — hit tough shots, but he’s playing with a level of confidence right now is very high.”

The guard continued to toy with the Nuggets defense repeatedly getting into the paint for easy finishes at the rim. Mitchell has displayed newfound patience resetting offensive plays in which he finds a defensive mismatch before attacking his opponent.

Mitchell shot 15-27 from the floor, 4-7 from the three-point line, and 17-18 from the free-throw line to cap his second-highest career scoring night.

The Jazz guard joined Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson as only the third player in NBA history to score at least 50 points twice in the same playoff series. Despite the accomplishment, Mitchell said the team has its eyes on a bigger prize.

“I’m honored to be in that category,” Mitchell said. “But we’re doing all this in the first round. We’ve been here before. We’ve got to find ways to get to the second round and into the conference finals and the championship.”

The Adjustments

Denver made adjustments to their starting before the game began. Jerami Grant and Monte Morris started the game in place of Michael Porter Jr. and Torrey Craig. Denver had been limited offensively with Craig on the floor, and a target for easy baskets with Porter on defense.

Grant helped the Nuggets offensively in the first half but couldn’t slow Mitchell down before finding himself in foul trouble late in the second quarter. Morris helped Denver on the offensive side of the ball but couldn’t limit the Jazz furious scoring from the perimeter.

“Denver came out very strong,” Snyder said. “They were physical, they attacked and knocked us back. I was proud of how we responded.”

In the second half, Snyder countered Denver’s moves with Juwan Morgan who has been a silent hero for the Jazz in the series. Morgan’s stat line wasn’t enormous, finishing with just four rebounds in nearly 11 minutes of play, but the Jazz outscored the Nuggets by five points in his brief stint.

Denver’s bigger lineup forced Royce O’Neale, who had been effective defending Jamal Murray in each of the last two games to defend the larger Millsap. Ingles was again asked to guard Murray, which allowed the stellar guard to go off for 50 points of his own, capped off with a meaningless three-pointer at the final buzzer with the game already decided.

O’Neale finished with a quiet 3 points on 1-4 shooting, and a game-worst -12 plus-minus. Ingles had his second consecutive bare stat line, finishing with zero points on four missed shots.

Denver  Plays Well Despite Jazz Win

Outside of Mitchell’s historic performance, the team’s hot shooting, and the final score, the Nuggets outplayed the Jazz in most areas.

Denver outrebounded the Jazz 40-37, including an enormous 17-6 advantage on the offensive glass. The Nuggets scored 29 second-chance points to the Jazz 15, connected on three more three-point attempts during the game, and committed just six turnovers.

Not to mention Murray’s career-high 50 points.

On most nights, winning those battles will result in an easy win. Instead, the Jazz continued to attack the Nuggets’ porous defense with ridiculous success.

The Jazz shot 42-73 from the floor for 57 percent, 14-29 from the three-point line for 48 percent, and 31-36 from the foul line for 86 percent. The Jazz attempted 23 more free-throws than Denver largely thanks to the Nuggets jump shot happy offense.

Gobert Plays Jokic to a Standstill

Gobert entered the series avoiding looking at his matchup with fellow Western Conference All-Star Nikola Jokic as the one on one matchup that would determine the series. The Jazz center is extremely prideful and makes a point throughout the season to outbattle other notable big men.

However, he’s taken a smarter approach in the postseason. Jokic has one of the most complete offensive games of any big man in NBA history. The big-bodied center is a great scorer, a nifty rebounder, and maybe the best passing big in league history. Simply put, Gobert can’t match Jokic’s numbers.

However, the Jazz All-Star has found a way to even the series out with Jokic, allowing Mitchell and the Jazz guard line to take over.

Jokic is averaging 25.2 points, 8.2 points, and 5.2 assists for the series. Compared to Gobert’s 19.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists don’t match the Serbian star. However, a quick look at the two players plus-minus tells a different story.

The Jazz have outscored the Nuggets by 40 points when Gobert is on the floor this series. Meanwhile, the Nuggets have been outscored by 38 points while Jokic is on the floor.

The Jazz can close out the Nuggets on Tuesday in Orlando. The game tips off at 4:30 pm MT.

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