To be honest with you, I was just trying to shoot a floater and grab a rebound, but I just happened to be up there. So I figured, why not come down with it? —Donovan Mitchell on his put-back dunk
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s 116-108 victory over heavily-favored Houston Wednesday night was shocking enough, but what everyone was talking as much about afterward was Donovan’s Mitchell’s fourth-quarter dunk.
Mitchell’s one-handed put-back dunk midway through the fourth quarter was replayed about a dozen times on ESPN’s SportsCenter from every possible angle and was the subject of numerous articles, tweets and videos after the game.
“Ferocious, incredible, spectacular, nasty, vicious” are just a few of the adjectives used to describe Mitchell’s dunk, which he tried to downplay afterward.
"To be honest with you, I was just trying to shoot a floater and grab a rebound, but I just happened to be up there. So I figured, why not come down with it?"
Mitchell might have forgotten about winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Weekend when he said, “That was my first one really on (national) TV. I had a few like that, but that was pretty cool in the playoffs to be able to do that."
Mitchell had driven down the middle and put up a floater over Trevor Ariza. As the ball bounced off the front of the rim, he caught the ball with one hand and elevated to slam it home with PJ Tucker and Clint Capela right there along with Ariza and hung on the rim for a moment as the Utah bench off to his left went crazy.
The slam came with 6:11 left in the game and put Utah up 100-94.
He got some good-natured kidding from his teammates on the postgame interview podium after the game.
"His midair decision should have been to get back on transition defense," said Joe Ingles, who scored a career-high 27 points. "Guarantee you that's in the film session tomorrow. I don't know what his midair decision was because I've never been in that situation. And I never will be. But yeah, just get back in transition defense. That's all he needs to know."
Jae Crowder, who’s been around the league a few years said, “I just know my jaw dropped.”
“It caught everybody by surprise,” added Jonas Jerebko. “But I don’t think anything should catch you by surprise with that kid anymore.”
FAMILIAR FOE: The Jazz have played 12 different NBA teams in the playoffs over the past 35 seasons, but none more than the Houston Rockets.
This marks the eighth time the Jazz and Rockets have met each other in the playoffs with the Jazz holding a 5-2 edge in the playoff series. The Jazz have played both Portland and the L.A. Lakers six times, holding a 2-4 record against each franchise.
Three of the most memorable of Utah’s 47 all-time playoff series have come against the Rockets.
In 1985, the Jazz won the deciding Game 5 in Houston behind a group of reserves that included the likes of Fred Roberts, Billy Paultz and rookie John Stockton, who wouldn’t become a starter for a couple more years.
In 1997, Stockton’s 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted Utah to a 103-100 victory and in 2007, the Jazz won Game 7 in Houston 103-99 with Carlos Boozer leading the way with 35 points.
HAPPY FOR IGOR: Besides winning Wednesday’s game, the Jazz were happy to celebrate assistant coach Igor Kokoskov being named as the new coach of the Phoenix Suns. Both coach Quin Snyder and general manager Dennis Lindsey were effusive in their comments Wednesday night and at least two Jazz players tweeted out their congratulations Thursday.
“Congrats to coach Igor. Phoenix got themselves a good one,” wrote Rudy Gobert.
Ricky Rubio tweeted, “There is no one who deserves it more than him. I’m telling you. So happy when good things happen to good people. Igor for ‘coach of the year!”
THIS DATE IN JAZZ PLAYOFF HISTORY: On May 4, 1992, the Jazz defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 98-89 in the fifth and deciding game of the opening round series behind Jeff Malone's 25-point game. The series had been delayed a couple of days because of riots in the L.A. area with Game 4 being moved from the city down to Anaheim, where the Clippers won 115-107. The Jazz went on to make the Western Conference finals where they lost to Portland in six games.
JAZZ NOTES: Rubio has missed the first two games of this series because of a left hamstring injury suffered in last Friday’s Game 6 win over Oklahoma City. Rubio was reported to be out for up to 10 days, but there’s been no word from the Jazz as to whether he’ll be ready to play in one of the two playoff games at Vivint Arena this weekend . . . Rookie Royce O’Neale has started in Rubio’s place the first two games and averaged 28 minutes and five points per game on 2-of-5 shooting in each game . . . Jerebko didn’t get off the bench Wednesday night, the first game he’d missed since Jan. 7. In the first seven playoff games, he averaged just 6.4 minutes per game after averaging 15 during the regular season.