Jazz Capitalize On High Emotions, Beat Mitchell, Cavaliers
SALT LAKE CITY – On what was a night of high emotion in Salt Lake City, the Utah Jazz came out victorious over Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Mitchell was tremendous in his return, matching his regular season career-high in a Jazz uniform with 46.
However, it was Jordan Clarkson’s 32 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter that earned the Jazz the 116-114 victory.
Clarkson’s Fourth Quarter Miracle
Though Mitchell was the man of the night, it was Clarkson who stole the show.
With the Jazz trailing 107-102 with 1:23 left to play, Clarkson drew a flagrant foul on a made three-pointer as Cavaliers wing Caris LeVert slid under his feet as he fell to the ground.
Clarkson knocked down the free throw, and the Jazz retained the ball.
On the ensuing position, Clarkson drew another foul on a three-point attempt, knocking down three more free throws to turn a five-point deficit into a 109-107 lead.
LeVert would miss a three of his own on the next Cavaliers possession which turned into a Clarkson running floater from nine feet out to give the Jazz a 111-107 lead with just 40 seconds left to play.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) January 11, 2023
In a matter of just 43 seconds, Clarkson went on a personal 9-0 run to bring the Jazz back from a near-certain defeat, spoiling Mitchell’s return in the process.
“JC was was massive for us in the second half, I think he had 24 points in the second half, I think we had had a seven-point play at one point, which is exactly what I told him to do,” Jazz coach Will Hardy joked after the game.
But it wasn’t just Clarkson’s fourth quarter that proved to be the difference.
As a team, the Jazz shot 10-36 from the three-point line for 27 percent. It was Clarkson who proved to be the exception, knocking down half of the Jazz’s three-point makes on 11 attempts to match Mitchell’s brilliant performance against his former team.
Mitchell Hopes For Healthy Relationship With Utah
Even after the Cavaliers’ difficult loss, Mitchell offered extra time in his post-game media session to answer questions about his time in Utah.
After a tumultuous exit from the team, the guard said he was happy to get a warm reception from Jazz fans upon his return.
“The reception was phenomenal, I am appreciative of it from everybody, the tribute was great,” Mitchell said. “It felt like it was just a typical Jazz night — back and forth, screaming yelling, it was awesome.”
Mitchell was the best player on the floor from the opening tip to the final buzzer leading all scorers on an efficient 14-27 shooting and a perfect 11-11 night at the free throw line.
In Donovan Mitchell's return to Vivint Arena, he put up 46 points on over 50% shooting from the field. He shot just under 40% from three and didn't miss a free throw in his 11 attempts.#TakeNote #LetEmKnow #NBA https://t.co/1tqnKUv55v
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) January 11, 2023
While Mitchell was happy to make his return to Vivint Arena, he said he also hopes he can maintain a strong relationship and have a positive impact on the Utah community he called home for five seasons.
“We’ve done so so much good to inspire change on and off the floor and I think that’s something that we will forever keep, and that’s that’s my biggest thing,” Mitchell said.
While fans always showed their love for Mitchell on the floor, his time in Utah wasn’t always easy. The guard was a powerful voice for social and racial inequality and spoke out about the problems he saw and experienced in the state.
As Mitchell reiterated the importance of issues he frequently spoke about as a member of the Jazz, he always wanted to recognize the success he felt off the floor.
“It’s easy to point out the negative, we live in a world where everything gets funneled through it,” Mitchell said. “But at the end of the day, we did a lot of good and I think that’s something that I want to make sure is always harped on, but I’m not going to stop using my voice in the way that I feel like I should.”
Mitchell Counsels Kessler After Game
In a once familiar sight as a member of the Jazz, Mitchell used his knowledge of the game and willing mentorship to help an opponent improve their game after the loss.
Shortly after the final buzzer sounded, the former Jazzman pulled Walker Kessler aside to offer tips to better evolve his game.
As it turns out, Kessler made a big impact on Mitchell’s 46-point night, and not in a way that helped the Jazz.
“He calls out what coverage is going to be in before he is in it,” Mitchell said. “So I knew what he was going to do before — like he calls “drop” which means he’s going to be back, so I’m like cool, I’m going to shoot a three.”
JAZZ WIN!!! pic.twitter.com/afSCvf8vwh
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) January 11, 2023
Mitchell knocked down 7-18 three-point attempts in his return, accounting for all but three of the Cavaliers’ downtown makes.
“I said that’s as you play guys who shoot threes off the dribble, they’re going to go at you,” Mitchell said. “Don’t tell them the answer to the exam.”
Despite Kessler’s rookie mistake, Mitchell had high praise for the first-round draft pick.
“He’s going to be good and he’s a humble kid, you know? He’s going to be solid.”
Bickertstaff Compliments Unique Markkanen, Mitchell
The Jazz and Cavaliers blockbuster trade that sent Mitchell to Cleveland has received early positive reviews from both sides. That’s largely because both Mitchell and Markkanen have exceeded expectations with their new teams.
Before the game, Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff complimented both All-Star hopefuls for their unique ability to adapt to their new environments.
“I don’t think Lauri and Donovan are the norm,” Bickerstaff said. “I think those guys are extremely talented, and then they get in places that best suit them. And I think that’s happened here.”
Markkanen’s trajectory in the NBA had appeared to reach a plateau in Chicago and Cleveland before a breakout performance with the Finnish National Team last summer. He carried that momentum into Utah where he quickly became the number one guy.
Similarly, Mitchell’s numbers had peaked in Utah before dipping in his final season with the Jazz. But after being traded to the Cavaliers, he has reached never before seen heights.
“Will has put him in great positions, but he’s been aggressive, he’s been a stud, there’s no doubt about it,” Bickerstaff said of Markkanen. “And then Donovan coming to us is the same, he had a track record here in Utah, then he came to us and the opportunities expanded a little bit and he’s taken advantage of it.”
Jazz Next Broadcast
The Utah Jazz and Orlando Magic will tip off at 7 pm MT on Friday in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.
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