This is the loudest crowd I’ve ever played in front of, so thank you to you guys, man. —Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell
SALT LAKE CITY — A huge smile crept across the face of Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell as a sellout crowd of 18,306 fans roared at Vivint Arena on Saturday.
After Utah’s 115-102 win against the OKC Thunder in Game 3, sideline reporter Kristen Kenney asked Mitchell, “How about this for your first playoff experience here at home?”
“This is the loudest crowd I’ve ever played in front of, so thank you to you guys, man,” Mitchell announced.
The playoff atmosphere was electric as the Jazz broke out their widely popular City Edition court and uniforms. The arena was also decked out with red, orange and yellow “Take Note” T-shirts to create a colorful kaleidoscope.
That fan reaction certainly left an impact on the game.
“It was tremendous. We’re grateful for our fans that they were that engaged,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “It has an impact, I think it has an impact on our players, and they’ve been like that all year and I think tonight it hit a new high. I don’t have to encourage them to continue it.
“We know and appreciate what we have,” he added. “I think our whole team with our fans so it’s not something that we take for granted but you come to expect it on some level, and I think everybody was excited about tonight and the opportunity to play at home, and we’ve got another one in a couple days.”
There were chants of “Rubio! Rubio! Rubio!” throughout the night as Jazz guard Ricky Rubio went off for the franchise’s first triple-double since 2008 with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Fans also taunted OKC Thunder star Russell Westbrook.
Audio has even surfaced of one guy yelling out, “Hey Westbrook, why don't you bring a pacifier since you're always whining!” near the end of the first half.
OKC forward Carmelo Anthony previously matched up against the Jazz in the postseason as a member of the Denver Nuggets in 2010, so he already knew what to expect.
“To me, it was a great atmosphere. I think games like this are definitely fun on the road in a loud place like this,” Anthony said. “It was a fun game aside from the loss. Everything else, the atmosphere, playing in front of these fans, on the road these are fun games.”
Game 4 is set for Monday at 8:30 p.m., and the second home game will be a “white out” with more T-shirts for the fans. Mitchell said he used that enthusiasm as an extra push on the floor and can’t wait to give them another show.
“It’s fun. I think that’s the biggest thing, and it just brings you back to when you were a kid kind of watching playoff games and just having fun and enjoying it, and the Utah crowd they’re relentless,” Mitchell said. “They made a lot of jokes tonight, they’re pretty funny, but they’re just relentless, and it’s just a lot of fun to have a crowd like that behind you.”