The Utah Jazz managed to notch their third straight win, but it took a battle with the New York Knicks to get there. Needless to say, Donovan Mitchell being back helped in a big way. The Jazz likely would not have gotten the win tonight without him.
The Knicks started out with a strong first 8 minutes of the game. They jumped out to a 10-point lead behind dominating play from Mitchell Robinson who was unstoppable in the paint virtually all night long. By the first break in action with about 7 minutes left in the first hew was already up to 8 points and 5 rebounds.
Despite a slow start, the Jazz did manage to go on a 10-0 run in the closing minutes of the first quarter to tie it up at 25. Overall, it was a weak quarter for the Jazz who allowed easy transition buckets, shot just 4/14 from three, and got outrebounded.
The second quarter was filled with lead changes and runs for both sides. With 6:41 left in the second, the Jazz took a 41-39 lead off of a nice drive and contested layup from Mitchell that got him to 13 points with a lot of time remaining in the quarter. By the half, he was up to 21 points on 8/14 shooting. Bogey and Conley also chipped in 11 points each.
On the other end of the court, Mitchell Robinson’s physicality continued to be a problem for the Jazz. With Gobert still out, the Jazz had trouble boxing him out and gave up 12 first-half rebounds to him. He added 12 points along with 12 from RJ Barrett and 13 from Julius Randle.
Despite this, the Jazz held a 59-57 lead at halftime.
The third quarter was one of the stranger quarters in recent memory. It was a quarter of very dramatic runs. The Jazz started the quarter looking like they might run away with things after jumping out to a 10-point lead on an 8-0 run. Utah immediately followed up the run by going icy cold with 8-straight missed shots and stopped playing defense allowing the Knicks to score 17 unanswered points.
Mitchell finally hit a layup, but it didn’t stop the bleeding as the Knicks got it all the way to a 24-2 run behind a big scoring outburst from Randle who finished with 30 and more dominance from Robinson on the inside who finished with 19 points and 21 rebounds (10 of which came on the offensive glass).
It was a third-quarter that lacked effort and energy from the Jazz much of the time. They gave up 3 offensive rebounds on free throws in the third quarter alone and frankly, that should rarely ever happen. All credit due, the Jazz did finish the quarter on a 12-4 run of their own to cut their deficit to just 4-points after it got as high as 12. They entered the fourth quarter with the score sitting at 86-82.
The fourth quarter remained close much of the time, but the game changed as the Jazz really locked in on defense. After somewhat of a rough start, Udoka Azubuike had a really nice finish to the game and ended up with 7 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
As we commonly see, Donovan took over in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t all scoring. In fact, there is a strong argument that Mitchell’s biggest plays in the fourth came off of huge assists, clutch steals, and one of the biggest rebounds of the game (Of course there was some spectacular scoring as well).
Midway through the third quarter, Donovan Mitchell found Royce O’Neale (who had gone 0/4 from three to that point in the game) and Royce knocked down the clutch three with the game all tied up. The Jazz came up with a stop and Mitchell found O’Neale in roughly the same spot for another three to put the Jazz up 6.
The Knicks were not done fighting and they had a mini-run of 5 points to make it a 1-point game. This set up the play of the game. After a missed shot, Donovan Mitchell skied high over Robinson for a huge offensive rebound and then dished it off to Dok for a huge dunk while he was falling out of bounds.
After some missed free throws by both teams, Mitchell got a steal and passed it out to Bogey for a wide-open dunk. Bogey finished with 20 points. On the next possession, Mitchell was fouled and hit a tough and-one to essentially put the game out of reach and score his 30th point. Mitchell wanted to finish the game off in style and managed to get another steal and finished the game with a windmill dunk for the exclamation point!
The Jazz won 113-104 led by a terrific all-around performance from Donovan who finished with 32 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block. Utah remains undefeated in February and is one game closer to getting back its other star in Rudy Gobert.
The Jazz’s next test comes against the Warriors on Wednesday night on ESPN. The nation will be tuned in for that one.