The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz squared off in a game with gigantic implications for seeding in the Western Conference playoff picture. In what might go down as the game of the year, regardless of whether or not it took place in a bubble at Disney World, the two teams threw haymakers for 58 minutes, with the Nuggets barely holding on to come out on top, 134-132, in double overtime.
Denver looked like it was going to see out a win in regulation, so long as Donovan Mitchell did not catch fire in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for them, with 10.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Jazz down by five, Mitchell stepped to the free throw line and knocked down both. Some mild chaos broke out from there — including those free throws, Mitchell went on a 7-2 run in those final 10.8 seconds. He did this by drilling a three from the top of the key off an inbounds pass and a coast-to-coast layup where he sliced through Denver’s entire defense.
Mitchell stayed hot during the game’s first overtime. He scored eight points in the extra frame, which included a pair of cold-blooded contested jumpers. The first came on a deep, deep three, while the other was a silky pull-up from the free throw line.
The unfortunate thing for Mitchell is that he wasn’t the only All-Star on the floor. The Nuggets were able to answer his shot making with some brilliance from Nikola Jokic. When Denver needed points, Jokic made them happen, whether it was by digging deep into the bag of tricks to foul out Rudy Gobert or blowing by Royce O’Neale to make a second overtime inevitable.
Denver looked it was going to take care of business in double overtime. Between Jamal Murray hitting shots — including a gorgeous step-back triple to beat the shot clock — and an exclamation point dunk by Jerami Grant with a touch over 20 seconds left, the Nuggets found themselves in the driver’s seat up by six.
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And yet Utah kept fighting admirably. Mike Conley hit a pair of triples in the final minute to keep the Jazz in striking distance, while Mitchell hit a three with five seconds left that pulled them within two. Murray took and missed a pair of free throws to crack the door open, and right as the buzzer sounded, Mitchell tossed up a prayer from half court that just narrowly was not answered.
Mitchell’s 35 points led all scorers, while he chipped in eight assists and six rebounds for good measure. Conley had a 20-5-5 outing, while Gobert had 22 and 13 before fouling out. Jokic stuffed the stat sheet with 30 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals, Murray scored 23 points with 12 boards and eight dimes, and Michael Porter Jr. contributed 23 points and 11 rebounds. With the win, Denver gave itself some breathing room in the race for third in the Western Conference, as it now sits two games above the Houston Rockets. Utah, meanwhile, is in the six seed, sitting one game back of the Rockets and in a tie with the fifth-place Oklahoma City Thunder, which have the edge based on a slightly higher winning percentage.