BOSTON — Donovan Mitchell stepped into TD Garden with a clear mind.
No footage was watched from previous night.
Support from his Utah Jazz teammates and his mother, Nicole, was how he pushed through much criticism after Friday night’s 13-for-35 shooting performance in the 113-107 loss in Philadelphia.
“Didn’t even think about that game, just went out there and hooped,” Mitchell said.
He responded with 28 points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals in a 98-86 win at Boston Saturday on the second night of a back-to-back.
Against Philadelphia, Mitchell drew heat from national media for his 31-point, zero-assist night, becoming the first since Carmelo Anthony in 2014 with at least 35 field goals and no assists. During the Boston victory, Mitchell remained aggressive, but looked to find others as well, starting 5-for-7 from the field.
“They’ll build you up to take you down. That’s how it is,” Mitchell said. “You can’t please everybody, you’re not going to. I personally like the negative stuff. Like I told you, I prefer it. I prefer playing with that. I wish I could have that every game, but that’s just always been me and I’m going to continue playing my game and I’m not going to forget what happened.”
Prior to the tipoff, Jazz coach Quin Snyder reiterated that he wanted his young star to remain aggressive even on nights where his shots weren’t falling like in Philly. Although Utah didn’t shoot the greatest as a team in Boston (44.9 percent), it also helped that the defense stepped up to hold the Celtics below 40 percent (38.5) with a season-low 86 points.
“We got an excellent effort from Donovan tonight after everybody was writing about his shots,” Snyder said. “I hope we’re happy with 21 shots and six assists because he was unselfish tonight, and obviously Ricky the same way.”
Ricky Rubio also finished with 20 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists on 6-for-13 shooting. Derrick Favors scored six of his 10 points and eight boards at the beginning of the fourth quarter to help the Jazz build a 22-point edge.
Boston was also on the second night of a back-to-back. On Friday night, All-Star guard Kyrie Irving carried Boston to a 123-116 overtime win against Toronto with a season-high 43 points and 11 dimes. Irving went off for 23 in the fourth quarter and overtime versus the Raptors, but he picked up his fifth personal foul on Ricky Rubio with 5:12 left in the third with Utah in town. He finished with a team-high 20 points and eight rebounds, but wasn’t as effective with the fouls.
Boston’s 15.2 percent shooting from three marked the lowest from the team all season, while the 12-point loss tied its largest margin of defeat.
“They know us very well and we know them very well, but I think that they limited us from certain opportunities at the rim as well as making guys make decisions and forcing us into some early turnovers and then of course just not being smart on my part just getting into some fouls whether I feel into the guys or not it just wasn’t smart on my end,” Irving said. “Taking myself out of the game kind of limited some opportunities on the offensive end, which slowed down the pace.”
With the latest victory, Utah improved to 8-8 on the season, snapping a two-game losing skid. These teams also faced each other last week on Friday, Nov. 9, in Gordon Hayward’s first game back in Salt Lake City after spending seven seasons as a Jazzman. Utah won that game 123-115 without Irving, who attended his grandfather’s memorial service.
Hayward was lifted from minutes restrictions against the Jazz in this latest loss, while still playing his way back into shape from last year's season-ending ankle injury, but scored just seven points, four rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes.
Mitchell also swatted Hayward’s fast-break dunk attempt at 9:14 in the fourth with Utah up 81-64.
“That was a big play,” said Jazz center Rudy Gobert. “I think that was really the play that kind of sealed the game for us, so big block. He can do it. I want to see more of that.”4 comments on this story
Gobert finished with 12 points and nine rebounds; Dante Exum contributed 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench while Jayson Tatum was Boston’s second-leading scorer with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Utah will wrap up a five-game road trip at Indiana on Monday. Mitchell has mentally stored the criticism and will look to use it to his advantage.
“Not really caring about the outside noise. I actually let it fuel me,” Mitchell said. “There were a lot of times where I hit a shot and was still talking, just emotionally letting a lot of stuff out and I think that’s what really just got me. Getting in the flow and playing defense.”