SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – On a night when the NBA announced the All-Star Game would be coming to Utah in 2023, Donovan Mitchell played like and all-star.
Mitchell had 32 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Utah Jazz over the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-95 on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.
Mitchell is the first Jazz player to have 30-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in a season opener since Carlos Boozer in 2007.
Mitchell scored 22 after halftime and made several key baskets down the stretch. Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points and Royce O’Neale chipped in with 14 for the Jazz. Rudy Gobert grabbed 14 rebounds.
“I just wanted to attack,” Mitchell said. “When you have teammates that trust you, coaches that trust you with the ball, it really makes it easy to keep going and make the right plays.”
“He’s much improved right now defensively because he’s demanding it of himself and he’s competing,” head coach Quin Snyder said.
Mike Conley went 1 of 16 from the field in his Utah debut after spending his first 12 seasons with Memphis. He missed his first 12 shots before finally scoring on a floater in the lane with 5.9 seconds left in the third quarter.
“I didn’t want to just be out there missing shots,” Conley said. “I wanted to be out there helping the team as best as I can and I just tried to be that for the team tonight.”
The Jazz outscored the Thunder 58-34 in the paint to offset 6-of-24 shooting from 3-point range.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander shined in his Oklahoma City debut, scoring 26 points on 10-of-23 shooting. Chris Paul added 22 points and eight rebounds. Danilo Gallinari had 21 points and seven boards.
Oklahoma City built an eight-point lead early in the fourth before the Jazz finally rallied. Utah surged ahead 85-80 on a 9-0 run capped by Bogdanovic’s 3-pointer.
Paul capped a 6-0 spurt with a long jumper of his own to put the Thunder ahead 86-85. Mitchell answered by slashing into the lane for back-to-back layups to put the Jazz ahead for good.
A mid-range jumper from Mitchell gave Utah a 96-91 lead with 21 seconds remaining.
Oklahoma City missed nine of its first 11 shots and hit just 23.8% (5 of 21) overall from the floor in the first quarter. Those shooting struggles opened the door for Utah to sprint out to a 23-10 lead. Starting with a jumper from Joe Ingles, the Jazz scored baskets on four straight possessions to carve out a double-digit advantage.
The Thunder made a pair of 8-0 runs to tie the game at 28 in the second period. They finally took their first lead after Gilgeous-Alexander made three straight baskets to fuel a 9-2 spurt. Paul capped it with a pair of free throws, giving Oklahoma City a 46-42 lead.
Utah answered with a 7-0 run — punctuated by a thunderous dunk from Mitchell — to go ahead 49-46 at halftime.
The Jazz next play at the L.A. Lakers Friday night.