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Mitchell’s 37 boosts Gobert-less Jazz over shorthanded Pelicans

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In a game more notable for who didn’t play

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

In a game where the Utah Jazz were missing their best player, Rudy Gobert, and the New Orleans Pelicans didn’t have its future star, the former of the two teams came away with a 128-120 victory.

Utah jumped out to an early lead thanks to its 44-31 first quarter advantage and 74-54 halftime advantage. And despite an effort from the Pelicans to make things interesting, they never got close enough to really make a move to take the lead.

In the absence of Gobert, the Jazz relied heavily on its top two scoring players, Bojan Bogdanovic and Donovan Mitchell. The latter led all scorers with a season-high 37-point game, adding seven rebounds and five assists. Bogdanovic added 28 points of his own on a highly efficient 10-of-17 shooting performance plus five rebounds and five assists of his own.

Brandon Ingram continued his run of great form with 33 points of his own but he was also a game-worst -20 in his time on the court in a game whose scoring margin finished under 10 points.

Reaction #1: Donovan Mitchell is on a scoring rampage (with a slight catch)

Tonight, Mitchell was spectacular in every way scoring with 35 points on 11-of-22 shooting and 6-of-11 on threes. Making it to the free throw line seven times and going perfect on those freebies really helped as well.

With that final point total, Mitchell is averaging 28.2 points in his last six games which is top 10 in the NBA for that span. The catch is that his efficiency isn’t the greatest, though it hasn’t seemed to hurt the Jazz much since they’re 4-2 in those games.

That high point total has come with the price tag of 41.7 percent overall shooting and 33.3 percent from deep. It’s the kind of ineffectiveness that causes people to accuse Mitchell of being a shot chucker.

But as aforementioned. 4-2.

Reaction #2: When the bench plays well, the Jazz are great

It’s hard to imagine the Jazz looking good in a game where Rudy doesn’t play and Mike Conley goes 1-for-8 from the field. And while Bogdanovic and Mitchell combining for 65 points certainly helped, an efficient bench helped.

Jeff Green and Emmanuel Mudiay scored efficiently and prolifically in their reserve roles. Green had 15, going 3-for-5 from the field and a team-best 8-of-8 on free throw attempts.

Mudiay and Green have long been polarizing players (well, Green a little longer than Mudiay). These kinds potential-flashing performances are what have put bread on the table for Green and have kept Mudiay in the league despite mind-numbing decision making and frustrating inefficiency.

Whether or not it’s too much to ask of Green and Mudiay to play like this every night (or maybe have Joe Ingles or Dante Exum do something), but it’s clear that when those two perform, good things happen in Jazzland.

Overreaction #1: Tony Bradley is a good backup

In his first career start, Bradley showed out with 14 points, nine rebounds and a block. He was also a positive in plus-minus in his time on the court. He’s obviously no Rudy Gobert, or even Derrick Favors, but Bradley is finally starting to prove that he does, in fact, have the potential typical of a first-round draft choice.

There have been plenty of rough patches in his time filling in for backup Ed Davis. But games like these give fans hope and Quin Snyder confidence that Gobert may not have to play 37 minutes a night to get wins for this squad.

Overreaction #2: The Joe Ingles 6th man experiment has failed

Has the sixth-man experiment failed explicitley because of Ingles’ move to the bench? Unlikely. It probably has more to do with the roster shake-up and maybe Father Time has caught up to Ingles a bit quicker than we expected.

Ingles is a guy who has made his career on offense by being a top-tier shooting in the league in terms of efficiency while also being a good passer to boot. To that end the 32-year old is making less than 30 percent of his 3-point attempts. His assist numbers are also down from 5.3 per game the last two years to 3.5 this year in not dissimilar minutes.

Underreaction: Really disappointing Derrick Favors didn’t play

It’s the unfortunate reality of the NBA that a player’s health must come before storylines and circled games on the calendar. Favors is one of the most beloved Jazzmen of all time, not just in recent in the modern team’s history.

NBA executives and whoever else in in charge of boosting ratings for the NBA are still lamenting Zion Williamson’s absence from the game, but not seeing Favors trot onto the court to play in front of the fans who loved him (and still do) for the better part of a decade was quite saddening.