Mitchell scores 45, rallies Jazz past Clippers 112-109
The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell scored 45 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 112-109 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series on Tuesday night.
Mitchell did most of his work in the second half, scoring 32 points to rally the Jazz from a double-digit deficit. Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 18 points apiece. Mitchell and Clarkson combined for 12 3-pointers.
“I didn’t do a lot of things right for my team in the first half and it ate at me,” Mitchell said.
Kawhi Leonard scored 23 points to lead Los Angeles. Paul George chipped in 20 points and 11 rebounds. Luke Kennard added 18 points while making a team-high four 3-pointers.
Utah and Los Angeles will play Game 2 on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
“We had a pretty good rhythm in the first half,” Leonard said. “We came in the third quarter pretty flat, but they are a good defensive team. They played hard tonight, and they fought the whole game.”
The Jazz trailed by as many as 14 points before rallying and overtaking the Clippers in the fourth quarter. Utah took the lead for good on a 21-9 run bookended by 3-pointers from Bogdanovic. His second one gave the Jazz a 103-93 lead with 5:22 remaining.
George hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 112-109 in the final minute, but Rudy Gobert blocked a potential game-tying shot from Marcus Morris with a second left to preserve the victory.
“Personally, I enjoy those moments,” Gobert said. “I embrace those moments.”
The Jazz went ice cold on offense during the first quarter. Utah jumped out to a 10-2 lead after Mitchell made a pair of 3-pointers. Over the next 8 1/2 minutes, the Jazz missed 20 consecutive shots — 15 of them were contested by the Clippers. Utah started 3 of 25 from the field before Clarkson buried a corner 3 to break the ice.
“We’ve had games where we’ve not shot it well,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Those are the games where you have to rely on your defense. The thing I’m pleased with is we didn’t stop shooting. We tried to get better looks.”
With Utah trailing 60-47 at the half, Mitchell took over from the start of the third quarter. He scored four straight baskets to open the frame and totaled 16 points in nine minutes. His effort helped the Jazz regain a 72-71 lead at the end of a 13-4 run. Mitchell scored back-to-back baskets to fuel the run and assisted the go-ahead layup from Royce O’Neale.
“I’m just happy with how I was able to control the pace,” Mitchell said. “That’s something I’ve tried to make strides with throughout my career.”