Mitchell Ends OK3 Experiment:
The Utah Jazz staved off a late comeback by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Jazz held on to win 96-91, after leading by double digits for most of the fourth quarter. But we won’t remember this game for the Jazz’s ability to hold on to a victory down the stretch. It’s going to be remembered for Donovan Mitchell’s magic. The rookie dropped 38 points on 53.8 percent shooting, but it was his 22-point third quarter that decided the game. The Jazz were down early before tying it 41-41 at the half. Then Mitchell exploded in the third period, hitting his first eight shots, and creating separation between the two teams. Mitchell has arguably been the best player throughout the entire series.
Russell Westbrook did all he could to help push the Thunder on to the Second Round for the first time since 2015-16, but it just wasn’t enough. The former NBA MVP had 46 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. Unfortunately for OKC fans, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony combined for just 12 points on 21.7 percent shooting from the field. The OK3 experiment ended in a 48-34 record and an opening round exit. George will likely leave this summer and Anthony’s impact is quickly dropping off. The Jazz had four other players who reached double digits including Joe Ingles who had 12 points and seven rebounds. Derrick Favors had 13 points and came up clutch for the Jazz.
Utah will get to face the winningest team in the league, the Houston Rockets. The Jazz were 0-4 against Houston during the regular season, but Mitchell is playing at a higher level now than he was previously. The Jazz will have to attempt to shut down James Harden and Chris Paul, which will be more difficult now that Ricky Rubio is injured and may be out for the next round. He hurt his hamstring in the early stages of Game 6 against the Thunder. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Rubio has already been ruled out for Game 1 and could miss 2+ weeks. Which means Mitchell will have even more weight on his shoulders. We’ll see if the rookie can push the Jazz even further.
Photo Credit: SLAM.