Highlights provided by MLG Highlights
1. Dudes and dudettes, I think we’ve found something special. Sure, we sung his praises damn near all season but seeing Donovan Mitchell elevate his game to lead his team to a road win over the Big 3 that completely smoked them in Game 1 is nothing short of astonishing. Mitchell’s 28 points (13 of them in the fourth) and 6 assists set the tone for a huge Utah Jazz victory in game 2 over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This is a team that suffered a 19 point run that saw them give away control of the game late in the third quarter but they clamped down on defense and committed to well executed and efficient play to fight their way back into this one. Mitchell, who turned in a good performance in a game 1 loss took it to another level here and it helped that he had quite a bit more support than he had in that first game loss.
2. Ricky Rubio turned in another fine offensive performance to go with his trademark bulldog defense. Rubio tuned in 22 points to go with 7 boards and 9 dimes. As with Mitchell the shooting efficiency wasn’t that impressive as the Jazz starting backcourt combined for 16 of 41 shooting good for 39% it was made up in spades with their trips to the line combining for 13 of 15. To his credit Rubio did can 5 of his 8 attempts from deep.
But the x-factor here had to be the frontcourt play here that was mostly absent in their previous meeting. Derrick ” D Fav” Favors beasted last night ripping off 20 and 16 on 8 of 14 shooting marking a drastic change from his drab 7 and 5 on Sunday while Rudy “The Stifle Tower” Gobert took control of the paint racking up another double double with 13 and 15 while swatting 3 shots. Hell, even Jonas Jerebko got into the mix dropping in 10 points in 12 minutes. This is all the more impressive factoring in that “Jingling Joe” Ingles didn’t have the best night scoring or facilitating.
For those of us that didn’t watch a bunch of Jazz ball during the regular season (don’t worry, I forgive you) this is how they finished 28-6. They play disciplined, they don’t lose focus and they wait for you to make mistakes. As opposed to representing a big, shiny and sharp hunk of Valyrian steel (hurry back Thrones) like many other teams they will drain the life out of you via a thousand cuts. It’s tedious and not nearly as visually satisfying but I’ll be damned if it ain’t effective.
3. Consistency has always been an issue with this team and those concerns were heightened once they drew the Jazz. Last night the concerns were confirmed. Going up as much as 10 late in the third quarter via a 19-0 run the Thunder appeared to be humming along taking full advantage of one of those Jazz cold snaps. Little did we know that the OKC 3 would soon experience one themselves that would prove to be their undoing.
Simply put, their stars let them down. In the fourth quarter Russell “Hustle” Westbrook, Carmelo “No Hood No Good” Anthony and Paul “The Player Formerly Known As Playoff P” George combined for 0-15 from the field in the fourth quarter. And by the time Steven “Big Funaki” Adams fouled out with 2:48 left in the game they had virtually zero offense on the floor. To be fair the first three quarters wasn’t a masterclass in efficiency for the aforementioned stars either.
Russy finished with 19-9-13 and 4 steals but the 7 of 19 shooting hurt since he only attempted 4 foul shots. Both Melo and PG straight stunk up the joint with Anthony going for 17 and 9 on 6 of 18 from the field and 2 of 9 from beyond the arc and George putting up 18 and 10 on 6 of 21 shooting and 4 of 12 from three.
In all fairness their role guys looked pretty good. Corey Brewer has 11 points on 50% shooting while snatching three steals. Despite a boneheaded shot selection late Jerami Grant looked really good finishing with 13 and 6 while Raymond “Fat Felt” Felton put up a line of 8-3-2 solidly running the second unit as always. Problem is Utah will take this paragraph if they can achieve the result of the previous one every…..damned……time. For Oklahoma City the stars need to align and string together some consistent play immediately, lest they want to suffer a long, drawn out and miserable playoff demise.