Mitchell Bests Dort To Steal Jazz Win In OKC

Dec 28, 2020, 9:41 PM
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)...
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s hard to say which streak was worse, the Utah Jazz 17-game, 10-year regular-season losing streak in Oklahoma City, or Donovan Mitchell’s poor shooting streak against Luguentz Dort.

Regardless, both streaks were snapped Monday night as the Jazz silenced the Thunder 110-109 thanks to late-game heroics from Mitchell prevented the Jazz from dropping to 1-2 early in the season.

The Jazz looked destined for another lackadaisical loss before Mitchell took over in the final half of the fourth quarter, besting Dort down the stretch.

Dort Gets The Best Of Mitchell

Mitchell’s struggles against the Minnesota Timberwolves carried over from Saturday night as the Jazz guard opened the game 3-15 from the floor through the game’s first 42 minutes.

The All-Star guard connected on just 6-23 field-goals against Minnesota over the weekend to combine for a 9-38 shooting stretch over seven and a half quarters of basketball.

Against the Thunder, Dort drew the tough assignment of defending Mitchell but more than held his own.

“Give him his credit man,” Mitchell said of Dort. “He’s a hell of a defender.”

While Mitchell outwardly struggled for the Jazz, Dort was having one of the more impressive offensive games of his career. With six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Dort had scored 23 points on 8-10 shooting from the floor and 4-6 from the three-point line.

The Thunder picked up Dort two summers ago after going undrafted largely due to his undeveloped offensive game. While the former Arizona State guard remains streaky in his second season, the Jazz got a full taste of what he can offer in the NBA.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder was complimentary of the Thunder wing’s defense after the game.

“Lu Dort is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league,” Snyder said. “We saw that last year in the playoffs.”

Dort made a name for himself in the Thunder’s seven-game series against the Houston Rockets last season when matched up with former MVP James Harden.

With six minutes remaining in the game, Dort had held Mitchell to as many turnovers (three) as he did made field goals and a team-worst -7 plus-minus.

The Thunder wing was nearly the hero of the game after sinking a 24-foot three-pointer with 1:04 to go to give Oklahoma City a 109-108 lead.

Dort finished with 26 points, two rebounds, one assist, and two steals to lead the Thunder.

Mitchell Gets The Best Of Dort

Though Dort handled Mitchell with relative ease through the game’s first 42 minutes, it was Mitchell who got the last laugh.

Despite starting 3-15, Mitchell was the best player on the floor over the final six minutes to help the Jazz steal the game in Oklahoma City.

This is how Mitchell closed the game: 

With 5:37 left in the quarter, Mithell came off a curl to hit an 18-foot jump shot to the game at 100.

On the next possession, Mitchell hit a 19-foot pull-up to give the Jazz a 102-100 lead.

Next possession Mitchell got a backdoor layup on a pretty pass from Gobert to go up 104-100.

On the next play, Mitchell earned two free-throws after drawing a foul from dort. Jazz up 106-102.

Three possessions later, including a missed Mitchell three, Mitchell hit a layup to go up 108-104.

Then, on the final Jazz possession, Mitchell isolated Dort and got a 12-foot bank shot to put the Jazz up 110-109 for good.

Over the Jazz final 12 possessions, Mitchell scored 12 points on eight field-goal attempts and helped the Jazz come from behind the get the win.

Mitchell tends to force things when the game gets tough and it leads to bad shooting performances like the one he had against Minnesota and through the first three and a half quarters against the Thunder.

But as All-Stars do, the Jazz guard found his groove with the game on the line and delivered in the clutch.

Mitchell finished with 20 points on 8-23 shooting, five assists, and two rebounds for the Jazz.

Mike Conley’s Near Triple-Double

Whether the losing streak in Oklahoma City or Mitchell’s poor shooting was the worse trend, neither have lasted as long as the Jazz triple-double drought.

The Jazz haven’t had a player record a regular-season triple-double since February 23, 2008. The Jazz beat the Seattle Supersonics 112-93 in the game, beginning a nearly 13-year drought for the team in the regular season.

(Ricky Rubio recorded a triple-double against the Thunder in the 2018 playoffs)

Conley finished the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists, one shy of the rare feat. That is to say, rare for the Jazz.

There have been 783 regular-season triple-doubles in the NBA since Boozer reached the goal for the Jazz. In fact, there have been five recorded in the last five days.

Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for two full seasons in the last three years.

Eventually, the Jazz will break this streak, but at this point, it’s far more interesting that the team has gone so long without triple-double than it is the number of players who reach the mark on a nightly basis.

The Jazz now return home to face the Phoenix Suns on New Year’s Eve.

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