SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – After a wretched first half, which saw the Utah Jazz miss 21 straight shots during one stretch, Donovan Mitchell knew he had to take over.
Despite battling nausea, Mitchell made the Clippers sick by scoring 32 of his 45 points in the second half, as the Jazz grabbed a 1-0 series lead in the Western Conference Semifinals.
“I was definitely feeling it a little bit,” said Mitchell, who tied Karl Malone for a franchise record with four 40-point playoff games. “But sometimes you’ve got to dig deep into a different place. So I came into halftime and I said, look, I’m just going to have to find a way.”
“He wasn’t feeling great physically,” said head coach Quin Snyder. “He was a little nauseous, he was a little light-headed. But he was not going to accept that.”
Mitchell scored ten straight points in the first two minutes of the third quarter, as the Jazz erased a 14-point deficit.
“He probably thought he had to take over the game and be extra aggressive, especially in the third quarter,” said Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 18 points. “He got us back in the game.”
You could see Mitchell consulting new Jazz part-owner Dwyane Wade during the game, asking him how to attack the Clippers defense.
“I continuously ask him what he sees,” Mitchell said. “I know what I see, but sometimes you have a different perspective, especially sitting on the floor like that. It’s great to have your coaching staff, your players, but then you have a guy like a hall of famer like Dwyane Wade, like, what do you see?”
“He’s special,” Wade told ESPN. “I don’t want to take any credit for his performance or any credit for his success. I just want to be able to add the things that I learned from the game of basketball.”
But the Clippers still had a chance in the end. Down by three, Rudy Gobert with the biggest block of the season, denying Marcus Morris, sealing the victory.
“I enjoy those moments and embrace those moments,” Gobert said. “At the end of the day, when you’re in a close game at the end, you’ve got an opportunity to impact the game. I knew he was going to pass to Morris for a three, so I just tried to contest as much as I could.”
“The saying by any means necessary, that’s what you saw from a lot of us tonight,” Mitchell added. “I think that’s what it’s going to take to beat this team.”
The first full house in over a year at Vivint Arena, 18,000 strong definitely made an impact.
“We really felt it throughout the whole game,” Gobert said. “It wasn’t just at the end or in the key moments. Having that crowd behind us really gave us a big lift.”
Game 2 is set for Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. at Vivint Arena.