SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell was back Wednesday night.
And just in time too, as thanks in large part to Mitchell, the Jazz broke their four-game losing streak with a decisive 117-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Mitchell had only missed two of those defeats, the Friday night home loss to Memphis because of a tight hamstring and Monday’s loss to Toronto with a sprained ankle, but he also missed minutes down the stretch of the other two losses with the aforementioned injuries.
His presence Wednesday night made a noticeable different as the second-year man from Louisville finished with a terrific line of 23 points, seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and only one turnover. He also had his share of highlight-reel plays, topped by dunks at the end of the first half and at the start of the second half.
With the victory, the Jazz improved to 5-6 on the season as they await a visit from the Boston Celtics and Gordon Hayward Friday night before heading out on a five-game road trip.
The highlight of the night was Mitchell’s posterizing dunk just before the first-half buzzer when he took the ball out front, made a couple of moves on Luka Doncic, drove past him, wound up and threw down a one-handed dunk over Maxi Kleber. It brought the crowd out of their seats and kept them buzzing through much of halftime.
“Because of the ankle, I didn’t think about it,” Mitchell said. “I just went up and it just happened. I wanted to go right, to be honest, but I just made a counter. A lot of times those plays you don’t think, you just do and fortunately it went in.”
Then to start the second half, Mitchell came flying down the lane after a missed layup by Joe Ingles to catch the rebound and throw it down with another spectacular dunk.
He credited fellow Louisville alum Darrell Griffith, who was on hand for the game as part of the 40-year celebration, for his exciting dunks.
“I had to do something a little extra because he was in the building,” Mitchell said afterward with Griffith sitting beside him in the locker room. “For all of this to happen to have it come full circle like this is an honor and a blessing.”
A few minutes after the second dunk, Mitchell swished back-to-back 3-pointers from out front as the Jazz pushed the lead to 23 points after leading by as many as 26 in the first half.
The Jazz couldn’t stand prosperity, however, and early in the fourth quarter they saw their large lead whittled to nine when they got “distracted,” according to coach Quin Snyder.
After the Jazz went nine possessions without a basket, it was Mitchell who pulled the Jazz out of their funk midway through the fourth quarter.
First he drove the lane and made a left-handed bank shot. Then he drove and drew a foul and sank both free throws. He drove to the basket a third time and, finding himself face to face with DeAndre Jordan under the hoop, he somehow fired a pass over to the corner to Jae Crowder, who swished a 22-footer to push the lead back to 13.
The Mavs hung around, however, and with the Jazz up 11 with just over two minutes left, Mitchell again came to the rescue as he rose up and sank a 3-pointer from the left angle to give the Jazz breathing room at 112-98.
“We ended up riding him in the fourth quarter when the game got a little closer,” said Snyder.
Besides Mitchell, the Jazz got good performances from several other players in the victory.3 comments on this story
Following his 22-point game against Toronto Monday, Alec Burks scored 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 4 of 5 from long range in just 15 minutes. Rudy Gobert had a double-double for the 10th time in 11 games this year with 17 points and 10 rebounds, not to mention four blocked shots before he fouled out with 3:16 left in the game.
Jae Crowder scored 14, Derrick Favors 13 and although Ricky Rubio struggled — again — with his shooting (3 for 13), he did hand out 12 assists and was praised for his defense by Snyder.
Jazz fans got their first look at Mavs rookie Luka Doncic, who impressed with 24 points, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Six other Mavs scored in double figures, including Harrison Barnes with 14 and Wesley Matthews with 13, but 39.7 percent shooting hurt their chances.