by Daniel Olsen
Once again, the Memphis Grizzlies lost in Vivint Arena and it was Donovan Mitchell’s fault. He scored or assisted on the first 13 Jazz points as they figured out how to dissect the Grizzlies’ defense early. This time, they made sure the benches were cleared in the fourth quarter with Mitchell finishing the night with 35 points. The Jazz ended the game with a final score of 126-110.
First Quarter: Mitchell is good
With an brilliant acrobatic move at the rim in the opening minutes, Mitchell got his rhythm going from the inside out. He double pumped mid-air and changed directions for the flashy score. He got the bucket and the foul and kept it pouring after the made and-one free throw.
Perhaps the biggest shot of this quarter was a transition three by Mitchell to put the Jazz up 20-13 with seven minutes left in the first quarter. The previously mentioned flashy lay-up was a more impressive play but this second three on Mitchell’s night was a “here we go again” moment for the visiting Grizzlies.
Mitchell looked like a man possessed. Every so often something lights a fire under him and he goes off. He did it on the road earlier in his career when an opposing Pistons fan was heckling him. He pointed to the fan after a great performance and told them it was their fault that he was destroying their team.
Gobert also didn’t go quietly into the night. He posted a double-double with 16 points and 14 boards. He also had two blocks and was a disruptive force. His best play of the night was on a perfectly timed alley-oop pass from Clarkson early in the first quarter.
Second Quarter: Mitchell is really good
Mitchell didn’t stop there. In addition to scoring 28 points in the first half, including an impressive buzzer beater from the logo, he also found other ways to win. He got into the lane then kicked it out to Clarkson for a wide open three. Mitchell’s prowess is a great reason that the Sixth Man of the Year candidate finally broke out of his shooting slump. Clarkson would erupt for 28 points in 29 minutes off the bench. He hit nearly half his three-pointers with 5-12 on the night.
The final shot of the half from 29 feet was just the icing on the cake. The theme of the first half was all Mitchell March Madness. That led to a long night for the Grizzlies in the second half.
Third Quarter: Put the Teddy Bears to bed
While Mitchell was great all game, there are other players who can’t be ignored. Royce O’Neale had a nice flurry of buckets in the third quarter. He scored eight straight points in 65 seconds. He made a lay-up with 8:46 to go in the frame and followed that with two shots from downtown. This run was responsible for ballooning the lead from a 20 point lead to a near 30 point blowout at the time. At this point, the white flag might as well have been waved by the visitors.
Fourth Quarter: Empty the bench
While games like these don’t make for oodles of engagement from the average fans, it is the satisfying equivalent of victory formation when the winning team “takes a knee” and lets the starters take a well earned rest.
The end of the bench got their time to prove their worth during garbage time. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and tonight the treasure belonged to Trent Forrest. He scored four points in the final minutes of the game. He had a little ten foot jump shot and a lay-up within two minutes of each other. He showed he deserved some time after not playing at all the previous night due to a closer than expected game. This night, any glimmer of hope the Grizzlies had of making a similar comeback was done in vain.
The Jazz will look to sweep the season series when they play the Grizzlies in Memphis this coming Wednesday. For now, they get a day off before their last game of this home stand. That will be against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night at 7 PM Mountain Time.
Game Notes – Mitchell Minute
• After this doubleheader against the Grizzlies, Mitchell is already third on the Jazz all-time made threes list with 695. Fourth on the list is Gordon Hayward with 689.
• Mitchell is scoring 30 or more points per game a third of the time this season. His amount of thirty point games has steadily increased each year from nine percent as a rookie.
• While Mitchell played great, the one concern is that he lead the team in one stat that’s not good to lead in. He has six turnovers on the night.
• Mitchell has had five or more assists a night in the last seven games. While he is capable of scoring at will, this proves he is a team player who wants to help the rest of the Jazz be better.
• Mitchell has now scored 35 points on back-to-back nights. The last time he recorded the same score in back-to-back games was on February 15 and February 17. He scored 24 in wins over the Clippers and 76ers.
• Mitchell has made five threes in each of the last four games. Ironically he went 0-9 in the game before that in a close win over the Raptors.
• Of course we can’t forget about another Mitchell. Following the news of Aggie basketball coach Craig Smith agreeing to play for the Utes, Aggie fan Mitch Henline announced he was the creator of the famous Captain Craig Smith account. His account is still in the Sweet 16 of our Utah Sports Fans Twitter Tournament. You can vote by clicking here.
Featured image courtesy Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports