Donovan Mitchell went toe-to-toe with Russell Westbrook, scoring the most points by a rookie in the playoffs in 31 years, and the Utah Jazz closed out the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 with a 96-91 victory to reach the Western Conference semifinals.
Mitchell heated up in the second half, scoring 15 points in the first six minutes of the third quarter. He finished with 38 points with four rebounds, two assists, one steal and five 3-pointers in 40 minutes.
“We worked hard, we stuck with it,” Mitchell said after the clincher. "After Game 5, there was some question if we could handle it, but the character of this team is just incredible. We all did what we were supposed to do, and we all came up big.”
Here are six statistical notes that put Mitchell's epic performance in perspective:
• Mitchell's 38 points are the most by a rookie in a playoff game since Indiana's Chuck Person scored 40 in a 1987 first-round series against Atlanta.
• Mitchell scored 22 of his 38 points in the third quarter, breaking Gordon Hayward’s franchise record for most points in a quarter during a playoff game.
• Mitchell is the fourth rookie in NBA history to notch 35+ points in a playoff series-clinching victory. The others are Wilt Chamberlain (53 points), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (46 points) and Magic Johnson (42 points).
• Mitchell is the first rookie to lead his team in scoring for a series in which they beat a higher seeded team since Alonzo Mourning led Charlotte past Boston in a 1993 first-round series.
• Mitchell is the third rookie over the past 35 seasons with multiple 30-point games in a series, joining Mourning (twice in 1993, first round) and Michael Jordan (twice in 1985, first round).
• Mitchell has scored 171 points in first six career playoff games, the third most by a rookie in NBA history behind Lew Alcindor (216 in 1970) and Wilt Chamberlain in (199 in 1960).