LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida, USA
Donovan Mitchell remained patient as Denver’s defense made life difficult for him. Rather than force plays, the Utah point guard simply distributed the ball until he found opportunities.
Mitchell scored 30 points, including 21 in a third period that was decisive as the Jazz thrashed the Nuggets 124-105 on Wednesday night, tying the playoff first-round series at one win per side.
Mitchell’s performance was evidence of his maturation as a playmaker.
“The best thing for me is to read the plays,” he explained. “In my early years I only saw the rim. I consider myself a scorer. I am proud that, during the quarantine, I concentrated on making plays, on finding a way to get the team involved. Maybe I won’t always score. I think that today I simply trusted my colleagues ”.
Mitchell was 10-of-14 from the field to help the Jazz take a clear lead in the third quarter. The lead expanded to 31 points in the fourth quarter.
In the first game, which the Jazz lost in overtime, Mitchell set a Utah postseason record, scoring 57 points. On Wednesday, he was targeted by Denver’s defense, opening wide holes for his teammates.
Jordan Clarkson scored 26 points, his highest number in the playoffs, on a day when the Jazz hit 51.7% of their shots from the field.
“Whenever two players are going for the ball, you’re going to sacrifice something,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
Utah dished out 32 assists and hit 20 triples.
The third meeting is scheduled for Friday.
“Today we were connected and communicated. We need to stay that way throughout the series, ”Mitchell said. “We need the same energy and intensity.”
Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. had 28 points, while Nikola Jokic added 28 and grabbed 11 rebounds.