The combination of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell was too much for Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks as the Utah Jazz won in the clutch, 114 - 109.
The Jazz’s vintage combo of Mitchell on offense and Gobert on defense was lethal against a very good Mavericks team.
Mitchell was masterful on the offensive end tonight going 11/19 from the field and 7/12 from three tonight for 33 points. He also dished out 5 assists with a team-leading +14. Since coming back from his concussion and hurt back, including tonight’s shooting, Mitchell is shooting 55% from the field, 45% from three, and averaging 28 points per game. He’s on an absolute tear and shows no signs of slowing down. What maybe more impressive is Mitchell’s playmaking. The numbers don’t bare it out, Mitchell averaged 5.2 assists per game before this stretch and 5.4 assists after, but it is showing up in his percentages. Mitchell isn’t forcing things and is trusting his teammates. On nights when the shot isn’t falling, Mitchell isn’t forcing the issue but is moving the ball more. Gone are the days of Donovan Mitchell trying to shoot his way out of slumps, now we see Mitchell playing a controlled, precise, offensive game where he gets to his spots and, if his shot isn’t there, he’s making the right read. It’s beautiful to watch.
The other major reason the Jazz won this game was the defense of Rudy Gobert down the stretch on Luka Doncic. I mean watch this.
rudy putting clamps on luka pic.twitter.com/mvfcSdzQi3— taylor griffin (@griffdunk) February 26, 2022
Rudy Gobert with the lockdown defense on Luka pic.twitter.com/8KzWU2IiW0— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 26, 2022
It’s amazing the type of defense that Gobert can play when he’s allowed to just isolate on the perimeter. The interesting thing about this is this isn’t the first time Utah has done this. Luka is now 0-5 for his career in SLC and the main reason is because of Rudy Gobert. Snyder has put Gobert on Luka in the clutch year after year and it has worked every single time. Part of it is because Gobert is an incredibly underrated isolation and perimeter defender, and the other part is that something about Luka’s style of isolation works for Gobert. Whichever is the case, it adds up to a matchup that the Jazz would be fine with in the first round of the playoffs.
A few other notes from this game.
Royce O’Neale needs to get his confidence back.
O’Neale took just 3 3-pointers this game. But he could have taken more. O’Neale is shooting 40% from three this year and every open shot he passes up hurts the team.
Danuel House has been a godsend for this team.
Whether it’s defending the perimeter, shooting the three, or pushing the ball in transition, House has been fantastic in his 24.8 minutes per game for this team. The Jazz didn’t make a huge splash at the trade deadline and it was likely because House was exactly the type of player they were looking for. House has been so good it’s starting to make you wonder if he needs more minutes and maybe even a starting role. He’s been that good.
Trent Forrest’s defense has been great too.
Forrest had a pretty rough offensive night, and it didn’t matter. Yes he went 2/2 with 3 assists but he gummed up the offense multiple times by not taking what the defense gave him and had 3 bad turnovers. He still had a positive impact on the floor. Forrest’s point of attack defense gives the Jazz a ton of versatility and a chance to rest Conley the rest of the way this season. Tonight’s game was great experience for Forrest who is going to get minutes in the playoffs. He’ll be better and could be a major reason the Jazz advance with his ability to defend at the point of attack. The rise of House and Forrest this season has been one of the best stories of the year.