Donovan Mitchell’s 45 Points Led The Jazz To A Game 1 Comeback Win Over The Clippers

The Utah Jazz have drawn first blood in their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite going down huge early and trailing by double-digits by halftime, a supernova performance from Donovan Mitchell lifted Utah to a 112-109 win, even thought Mike Conley was out with an injury.

The first quarter began with Utah getting scorching hot before going ice cold. The Jazz jumped out to a 7-0 run early on in the game before going on to miss 21 shots in a row. In that time, the Clippers opened things up, ripping off a 22-2 run — powered by nine first quarter points from Luke Kennard — to quiet the crowd and give themselves a little breathing room in the unfriendly confines of Salt Lake City.

Not only did Los Angeles extend its lead in the second, it did so in one of the most unconventional ways you can. Playoff basketball is known as a place where rotations have to be tightened, but instead, Tyronn Lue dug deep into his bench and played 11 players in the first half. Some, like Ivica Zubac and Patrick Beverley, returned to the rotation after getting played off the floor against Dallas last round. Others, like DeMarcus Cousins, just straight up did not take the floor against the Mavericks.

The result: The Clippers found itself up, 60-47, at the half. Los Angeles was powered by a fairly egalitarian effort, with 11 points from Kennard, nine from Reggie Jackson, seven (with three rebounds and three assists) from Kawhi Leonard, and six from Cousins, Nic Batum, and Marcus Morris. The team knocked down 11 of their 23 attempts from three (45.5 percent), which the Jazz were bricklayers, going 7-for-27 (26.9 percent) from downtown. Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson led the way, combining for 22 points, but it came on 8-for-24 shooting from the field.

Utah came out of the half and caught fire, stirring the crowd into a frenzy with a 12-2 run right out of the gate to cut the Clippers’ lead to three. Four points from Leonard opened the lead back up, but the Jazz just kept coming. Each time they’d get on the doorstep, though, the Clippers managed to have an answer to give themselves a little breathing room.

Ultimately, the dam broke thanks to Royce O’Neale. A missed jumper by Leonard was pulled down by Mitchell, who pushed the ball in transition and into the waiting arms of O’Neale. Utah’s 3-and-D wing did the of the work from there, gliding in and kissing the ball off the backboard to give the Jazz their first lead since the first quarter.

The teams traded the lead back-and-forth to end the half, with things being so razor close that things were all tied up at 79.

The Jazz drew first blood in the fourth quarter, opening up a six-point lead early on in the frame.

While the Clippers would continue to threaten, the tables were turned from the start of the third quarter — every time L.A. would inch closer, Utah seemed to have an answer. It helped to have Mitchell, who came up huge time and time again down the stretch.

And yet the Clippers had a chance. George hit a three on the penultimate possession of the game to slice Utah’s lead in hald, followed by a Mitchell brick. Opting to not call a timeout, Los Angeles brought the ball up and tried to get off a game-tying triple. Both teams scrambled, the ball found Morris in the corner, and Gobert showed off his defensive excellence by blocking his attempt to get off a shot.

Mitchell was the man of the night, scoring 45 points on 16-for-30 shooting with a 6-for-15 clip from three. Clarkson and Bogdan Bogdanovic each had 18, while Gobert scored 10 points, pulled in 12 rebounds, and blocked three shots. For Los Angeles, Leonard’s 23 and seven rebounds led the way, George had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds — although he shot a paltry 4-for-17 from the field — and Kennard provided much-needed offense off the bench, going for 18 points.

Game 2 between the Jazz and Clippers will take place in Salt Lake City on Thursday evening at 10 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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