ATLANTA — With 6.2 seconds remaining in regulation and the Utah Jazz trailing by three, a pair of free throws from Kyle Korver were off the mark before Donovan Mitchell skied to grab an offensive rebound.
Mitchell would fade to the corner for a potential game-tying triple, but the difficult shot would also pop out as the Jazz saw their five-game win streak snapped in Atlanta on Thursday night, 117-114.
Even after outscoring the Hawks, 56-38, in the paint and winning the rebound battle 49-43, the Jazz would fall short after allowing the Hawks to go on a 19-8 run late in the fourth to seal the victory.
“It’s very important to me to finish out strong,” said Hawks rookie Trae Young, who ended with 23 points and a game-high 11 assists. “I know it is for everybody in this locker room. We all want to go out strong, maybe spoil some teams along the way and just have some fun.”
Utah refused to make any excuses of arriving late in Atlanta for the second night of a back-to-back after winning Wednesday’s contest in New York.
Up next is Chicago as the Jazz will wrap up their four-game road trip on Saturday. Against the Hawks, though, Atlanta native Derrick Favors put up 15 points and 15 boards for his 15th double-double.
“It’s a loss. All losses are difficult, I think,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “You know, we weren’t as dialed in as we needed to be defensively in the first half.
“I really liked how we responded in the third quarter,” he continued. “We came out and got stops, got easy stuff off of our defense, and then we broke down really in our transition defense. We gave up some open looks, some open threes, which they made. Then we just weren’t as efficient as we needed to be on offense.”
Mitchell also went off for a game-high 34 points, four rebounds and two blocks but shot 3-for-11 in the fourth. After icing his legs in the locker room following the loss, the Jazz guard then put his pride to the side to do something bigger than basketball for a longtime friend.
Once the majority of the fans exited State Farm Arena, outside of friends and family for the players, Mitchell gifted Naja Brooks — the daughter of his fourth-grade teacher at Greenwich Country Day School, Deborah Peart — with a $25,000 scholarship through his SPIDACARES Foundation in partnership with Adidas and Footlocker.
They also received a $500 shopping spree and courtside seats.
Brooks, 21, instantly grew emotional by the gesture, once the 4-foot-wide check was presented to her on the court.
She currently studies illustration at Savannah College of Art and Design and needed the extra money to wrap up tuition.
“First of all, it’s amazing. Honestly, I was just excited to come out to actually just support him because I hadn’t seen him in forever, but then this added to it,” an emotional Brooks said. “It put it over the edge, it put it over the top.
“I had no idea about this.”7 comments on this story
Although Mitchell certainly wasn’t happy with the loss in Atlanta, especially with his game-winning shot attempt being off, the opportunity to help another through his foundation is what mattered most. He also has other plans in the works.
The Jazz (42-30) did slip from fifth to seventh on the Western Conference Standings as they’re currently engaged in a four-way tie with the Thunder, Spurs and Clippers for playoff positioning.
“As far as staying focused, it’s about understanding that basketball is going to happen, but life is about being in these moments and being able to help people out when you can,” Mitchell said.