SALT LAKE CITY – Donovan Mitchell dripped around a screen and saw nothing but the trash can. Well, the trash can and JaVale McGee. But this ended up not being a problem.
Mitchell drove the paint as if it were a track, jumped off two feet and delivered a tomahawk jam with one hand over all of McGee.
"Obviously, we feed it," said Jae Crowder. "And the crowd feeds on this."
That dunk was practically the beginning of the end for the Lakers. He started a race that pushed the advantage of the Jazz to 20 points behind the blocks, more crushed and a corner 3-pointer of Joe Ingles who almost blew up the cover of Vivint Arena.
It may have been only the second quarter, but Mitchell the slam helped push Utah to win the 1
Mitchell concluded with 33 points in 14-for-24 with 9 assists and 4 rebounds. It was the fourth consecutive game of Mitchell with at least 26 points and the second adjustment that exceeded 30 points.
"Honestly, the schiacciata was just a read," said Mitchell. "I did not think about it too much, I just tried to move on to the next play, realizing that if I did the dunks they would try to push in transition, that's where my head was and that's where everyone's head was."
It was Mitchell's first start this season, and his performance helped hide the fact that Utah did not have a healthy guard point available on Friday. With Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum and Raul Neto suffering from injuries a week later, Jazz had to give even more responsibility to their young star. And once again, Mitchell was at the height.
"Perhaps in the first eight minutes of the game we saw it, someone was hung on a screen in a pick-and-roll, hit a three," Jazz told the trainer Quin Snyder. "McGee or one of the other big guys was back, he pulled up, hit his midrange, he attacked the big one on the edge and scored, he attacked the big on the edge, lost and Rudy (Gobert) crashed. All those who are attacking comedies. "
Mitchell was tremendous, as was the defense of Jazz, keeping the Lakers only 36 percent and 18.5 percent from the 3-point line. The task was a little easier than LeBron James could have done, but outside of a small run in the third quarter, the Lakers did not challenge the Jazz much in the second half.
Former Utah Ute Kyle Kuzma, who was coming out of a 41-point performance, was 4-for-18 from the field for 11 points. He did not score his first field goal until the third quarter.
The Jazz scored 19 points out of the business lap and Mitchell said the team has placed an extra emphasis on getting stops to go out and run.
"When you have three tip guards out, it's harder to run games and harder to control the game, so the only way for us to get out and get our buckets in transition is to get stops", said Mitchell.
Mitchell's night included a 4-for-5 3-point performance – the fourth time in the last five games, he shot over 50 percent from the deep. Rudy Gobert finished 12 points and 18 rebounds, Joe Ingles scored 14 points and 12 rebounds and Derrick Favors finished 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Utah improved to 22-21 in the season – the first time it was over .500 since it was 7-6 after a win on November 12th.