SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz fans continued to buzz about Donovan Mitchell’s dunk a day after the play helped his team beat the Los Angeles Lakers.
And rightfully so.
It was one of the individual highlights of the NBA season so far — if not the highlight, as the Lakers TV crew suggested.
“Oh my goodness,” popular NBA tweeter Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) tweeted. “Donovan Mitchell GOT BUNNIES.”
You know, hops.
“Welcome to the Donovan Mitchell show!” Slam magazine tweeted.
“Donovan Mitchell just dropped Thor’s hammer on the Lakers,” @LakersSBN blog wrote. “Respect.”
And the descriptive list goes on — from Mitchell being called a good “insane” (by CBS sports writer James Herbert) and going “UP” (Bleacher Report), to the No. 13 overall pick being labeled as “gifted” (official NBA Draft Twitter account) and an athlete who “shows off the bounce” (official NBA Twitter account).
Quin Snyder wasn’t directly asked about Mitchell’s dunk and the Jazz coach made it clear that he doesn’t want to get into a daily analysis of the rookie’s progress, but Utah’s bench boss did offer a huge compliment in his postgame press conference.
"Donovan obviously doesn’t have a lot of fear,” Snyder said. “That's a good thing."
The 21-year-old’s fearlessness helped him have his best game as a pro: a game-high 22 points on 6-of-13 shooting, three rebounds, three steals and two assists (but five turnovers).
On this night, Mitchell outplayed Lakers rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.
"I think it’s just all mental,” Mitchell said. “I’ve been struggling the last few games offensively. Defensively, I’ve been playing well, but as a young kid it gets in your head that you’re not scoring that much. You can’t rely on points. You have to be able to do things defensively, and I think we all did that tonight. I’m really proud of the way we played tonight.”
Mitchell’s success wasn’t the only thing Snyder focused on after the 96-81 win over the Lakers, which came after losses to the Clippers and Suns.
Utah played especially well in the first quarter while taking a 31-16 lead. The Lakers switched on pick-and-roll defensive coverages the rest of the night to some success, but the Jazz were able to answer every charge the visitors made.
The Jazz also shot well from 3-point range, hitting 13 of 31 from outside.
“I thought that we were gritty. The offense was coming easy at certain points. I like that we shot 31 threes,” Snyder said. “I think we had one less turnover than last game (23), so we’re showing improvement on that.”
Mitchell led the Jazz in scoring, and it helped that they got a wide variety of contributions, especially from Ricky Rubio (21 points, seven rebounds, four assists).
Mitchell and Rubio were both excellent beyond the arc after having some struggles in the first week of play. The rookie hit 3 of 6, while the starting guard went 4-for-7. Mitchell credited Rubio for continuing to help him with his confidence.
“I feel comfortable. Shooting the ball better, helps with confidence,” Rubio said. “Coach gives me confidence too. Teammates (are) looking for me to shoot it.”
Rodney Hood wasn’t in the game down the stretch because Mitchell was playing so well, but the starting shooting guard also made some important contributions. He scored 13 points with three 3s. Joe Ingles also had 13 and three 3s.
“We just came out with a focus. Last game wasn’t our best game,” Hood said of the ugly 97-88 loss at Phoenix. “We wanted to come out and play hard, take care of the ball and just play with energy. That’s what we did throughout the whole game tonight, regardless how we play offensively.”
The Jazz were rewarded with a day off of practice Sunday. They continue their home-friendly stretch Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks at Vivint Arena.