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EMPTYING THE NOGGIN Donovan Mitchell is special in close game finish for Utah Jazz

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

SUMMARY:   In the final pre-season game of the season the Utah Jazz got a close game experience for the first time and were able to pull out a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers 105-99.

  • Donovan Mitchell stole the show throughout the night, but most of all in the final moments. Mitchell connected for 5 straight points late in the game to put the Jazz ahead to stay.   The Jazz closed the game on a 7-0 run.   Mitchell hit an incredibly tough shot on a drive to the basket when he wanted to go with his right hand from 7 feet out, but the defender eliminated that option and he switched to his left hand.  On the next possession, he hit a catch and shoot three to seal the game.  Mitchell finished the game with 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.

 

  • Jazz trailed by 6 with 5:00 minutes left. They trailed 97-95 with 3:55 left and closed on a 10-2 run.   Gobert had a jam follow and then split two free throws.  Mitchell followed with the next 5 points and Rubio hit two free throws.  In that time the Lakers had 1 field goal.

 

  • After the game in our post-game interview, Ricky Rubio seemed very impressed by the rookie. Interestingly, he talked about how he is constantly asking questions and trying to learn.

 

  • Rodney Hood only played 4 minutes due to a sore neck. The Jazz also were without Raul Neto (hamstring) and Dante Exum (shoulder) so it left Mitchell to play a significant role and he rose to the occasion.  He was terrific throughout the game.   After the game, the Lakers press room was buzzing about the play of Mitchell.

 

  • The Jazz played a fairly normal rotation on the back end of a back to back for their final regular season game. Rudy Gobert played 33 minutes and finished with 29 points.  He only had 30 or more once all of last season.   The Jazz offense is predicated on the pick and roll with Gobert putting pressure on the rim.  For all the talk about Hood and others using all of Hayward’s possessions, maybe it is going to Gobert that has the increased role in the offense.  It still will have to be predicated off getting the ball off of other people’s actions.    Clearly, it is the major focus of the offense.

 

  • Ricky Rubio took 18 shots tonight. The Jazz need Rubio to use possessions.  He has never played on a team that needs him to take this large a role in the offense.  It will be interesting to see if that helps his shooting.  He was 6 of 18 tonight, but he went to the line 9 times, making 8.  The free throws were able to make him an efficient offensive player tonight.

 

  • The Jazz closed the game with Rubio, Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Joe Johnson and Gobert. Johnson is going to be a large part of the Jazz closing offense.   He is very calm.  He can space the floor and needs attention if he is spotted up or if he has a mismatch he can go into the paint and get that little hook that crucified the Clippers.

 

  • The game was played at a pace of 103 possessions which is about 10 possessions faster than the Jazz a year ago. Pre-Season basketball is usually 4 or 5 possessions faster than a regular season game.

 

  • The Jazz defensive rating tonight was 96.0. That will win a lot of games.

 

  • Jazz defensive rebounding percentage was an incredible 87%. The negative of the night was the Jazz turned the ball over on 19% of his possessions.

 

  • Solid win. Good experience playing a back to back and then having a close game down the stretch.

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David Locke enters his ninth year as the radio play-by-play voice of the Utah Jazz, having spent the majority of his career in radio in Salt Lake City and Seattle. In the summer of 2016, Locke created the Locked on Podcast Network which has podcast daily bite sized podcasts for every NBA and NFL team. A native of Palo Alto, Calif., Locke graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a degree in Political Science and Sociology. Locke and his wife have a son and a daughter.

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