by Daniel Olsen | Donovan scored endless buckets on Monday to record the highest scoring playoff game in franchise history. Where does he rank among the top 5 performances ever? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.
5. Donovan Mitchell scores 50+ points for the second time in a series: It’s hard to put this game at just five because it’s become almost regular for Donovan to put up a lot of points in the playoffs this year. On August 23, 2020, he finished Game 5 vs the Nuggets with 51 points on 15-27 from the field, 4-7 from three and 17-18 from the free-throw line. He joins Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan as the only player to score more than 50 points in two playoff games within the same series. That is some stellar company. It’s hard to top this high quality performance which gave the Jazz a commanding 3-1 lead in the series but there are plenty of other great ones coming up.
4. Carlos Boozer leads Jazz to game seven victory over Rockets: On May 4, 2007, Boozer closed out Game 7 with 35 points and 14 rebounds to give the Jazz the decisive victory over T-Mac and Yao Ming. This continued the first round curse for All-Star Tracy McGrady and was undoubtedly the peak of Carlos Boozer’s career. He had plenty of little injuries that doomed the Jazz in the years to follow. For this one game, though, he sparked a run for the Jazz that continued all the way to the Western Conference Finals. He and point guard Deron Williams were stars and would play on the 2008 USA Olympic team together in Beijing. The force was with the Jazz on this Star Wars Day.
3. Karl Malone scores 50 points against Seattle: On April 22, 2000 Karl Malone had a superb game one against the then-Seattle SuperSonics. The Jazz would win that first round series 3-2, but it was that great start by The Mailman in the first game that delivered a series victory for the Jazz. This was especially impressive because he was 36 years old and the oldest player to ever score 50 points in a playoff game.
2. Donovan Mitchell scores career high: Prior to this game on August 17, 2020, the most Donovan had scored was 46 points. He definitely came to play in game one vs the Nuggets. With Mike Conley out to witness the birth of his new baby boy, Mitchell made sure to lead the backcourt with a performance for the ages. While the Jazz ultimately lost the game in OT, 57 points was a historic playoff performance. It was the third highest scoring game in NBA playoff history.
1. John Stockton sends the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals: While the stat line was solid (25 points, 13 assists), there have been plenty of higher scoring performances in the playoff games of old. What made this shot so special was that on May 28, 1997, Stockton sent the Jazz to their first NBA Finals in franchise history. This game-winning buzzer-beater clinched the series over the Houston Rockets in six games. That was definitely the greatest shot in Jazz history with just enough of a solid game to take the top spot on our list.
Honorable mention: The triple-double games
Triple doubles are a fun stat to look at but not necessary for greatness in our opinion. It’s possible to have a triple-double and very underwhelming performance at the same time. We have seen players that can assist and steal (Stockton) rebound (Malone) and score (Mitchell and Malone), but it’s hard to put up high numbers in three categories throughout a 48-minute game. The Jazz have had just 24 triple-doubles in franchise history but a couple of them came in the playoffs. Here is a list of playoff triple-doubles by the Utah Jazz:
Ricky Rubio: 26 points 11 rebounds 10 assists
In game three vs Oklahoma City Thunder, it was the Ricky Rubio game. On April 22, 2018 Rubio was rocking the city jersey and the Jazz ran over OKC 115-102. Rubio broke a 17 year playoff triple-double drought and recorded the first franchise triple-double in over a decade.
John Stockton: 12 points 10 assists 11 rebounds
Stockton didn’t have the biggest scoring game, but he did a little bit of everything to keep the Jazz in the game. Unfortunately they lost to the Mavericks 94-91. This game was played on April 27, 2001. The Jazz had already hit their peak and it was the start of a few disappointing early exits at the twilight of the Stockton and Malone era.
John Stockton may have the best game and shot in Jazz history, but Donovan is having one of the best series in NBA Playoff history. He is averaging 39.5 points per game in the first four games against the Nuggets and has just been sensational. The Jazz may have struggled in the regular season versus Denver, but once they struck gold on those Nuggets, it’s been lights out.