It’s over. A glorious season filled with excitement, exceeded expectations and, most importantly, wins, is at last over.
Chris Paul went off for 41 points, 10 assists and zero turnovers with 20 of those points coming in the fourth quarter. It was the kind of performance that you get with veteran star players in the playoffs. And it ended Utah’s year.
Donovan Mitchell was working magic of his own in the third quarter. After scoring just two points in the first half, Mitchell went off for 22 points on 8-10 shooting and pulled the Jazz back from down eight at the half to up by three at the end of the third quarter. The Rockets as a team only scored 21 points in the third.
Unfortunately, Mitchell collided with Sir Flop himself, James Harden, and left the game with an apparent leg injury.
Donovan Mitchell was helped to the locker room after suffering an apparent knee injury pic.twitter.com/FsTzOR16O9— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) May 9, 2018
Mitchell would eventually return to the bench, but did not enter the game. The Jazz announced on Twitter that the rookie guard suffered an injury to his left foot and initial x-rays came back negative.
Donovan Mitchell's (left foot soreness) x-rays returned negative. He will undergo further tests in Salt Lake City.— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) May 9, 2018
At the time of the collision, the Jazz were down 90-87 with about seven minutes to go in the fourth. Utah would get within one point at 97-96 thanks to a few great plays from Royce O’Neale, but then Paul scored 10 straight points for the Rockets which essentially put the Jazz away for good.
Mitchell’s injury was the last in a series of backcourt injuries that kept Utah from making the series more competitive. Ricky Rubio logged all of zero minutes and Dante Exum left in Game 4 leaving two rookies, Mitchell and O’Neale, as the only guards from the main regular season rotation.
Coming into the series, this result is what everybody expected. Maybe some disagreement in how long the series would last, but it was clear before the series and it’s clear now that the Rockets are the better team. Given some semblance of health, maybe Utah pulls out another game or two. But the outcome would likely not have changed.
Even with the loss, the Jazz have every reason to hold their heads high. No one expected them to make it this far and yet they did. The future is as bright as the star Mitchell became this year.