It’s fitting that on Selection Sunday, the Utah Jazz got their signature win of the season. Facing a possible playoff foe in New Orleans, the Utah Jazz traded blows with the Pelicans for three quarters before Donovan Mitchell stole the show and erupted for 25 of his 27 points to put the Jazz ahead and seal the Utah’s 11 straight road win. Before this road winning streak the Utah Jazz had only 5 road wins total. What a change of fortune.
While Donovan Mitchell’s heroics stole the show, the Jazz were in striking distance of a win for most of the game due to Ricky Rubio’s big night. Ricky Rubio finished with 30 points on 10 of 22 shooting while going 4-5 from three. Ricky got to the line for 6 free throws. Most importantly, he did all the little things to keep Utah in this game. He had 10 rebounds and 7 assists. He was masterful, pushing the pace for most of the game. Without his tenacity, Utah is getting blown out.
The big matchup of the night was Rudy Gobert vs. Anthony Davis. In the 1st half, Anthony Davis did not disappoint. He had 23 points and looked dominant. In the 2nd half, Davis started to look hobbled by his ankle injury and a step slow. He only had 2 points in the entire second half which was due to his ankle and Gobert’s defense. Still Anthony Davis had another insane night collecting his first career triple double with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 (!!!) blocks. I’m not sure the Jazz win this game with a fully healthy Anthony Davis.
In the third quarter, this game looked like it was going off the rails. The Pelicans had shut down Utah offensively, and it appeared the Pelicans were on the verge of breaking the game wide open. Thankfully, Utah’s defense had kept them in a game where their offense had slipped away. That’s when Donovan went nuts. He was hitting threes, acrobatic layups, finding teammates open for three, and breaking away for rim rattling dunks. He almost had the dunk of the year when he went up and almost ended the life of Nikola Mirotic. Donovan Mitchell had 25 of his 27 points in the second half and really sealed the game for Utah. This marks the second time for New Orleans when Donovan Mitchell has ruined their night. The 1st time was when Donovan had his career high 41 points.
This game had huge implications. Utah will most likely end the night in a three way tie for the 8th spot. Utah is now only 1.5 games away from homecourt in the Western Conference. What a turnaround Utah has executed this season.
But even more importantly this opens up a chance for Utah to run the table again for an 11 game win streak as their next 5 games all come against lottery teams jockeying for the top pick in the draft. In five games Utah could be roosting at that 4 spot in the Western Conference with the tie breaker over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Jazz’s next game is against the Detroit Pistons at home on Tuesday at 7:00PM. This game could mark the return of Dante Exum.