Donovan Mitchell scores 41, but Jazz fall to Phoenix in overtime

With more than a month to go before the NBA playoffs begin, the Utah Jazz got their first taste of the postseason on Wednesday.

The nationally televised battle between the No. 1 Jazz and the No. 2 Phoenix Suns was physical and thrilling, an overtime battle that saw two of the league’s young All-Star guards, Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker, combine for 76 points.   

“That was playoff basketball,” Mitchell said.

But after falling 117-113 in extra time, Mitchell and the Jazz know they still have work to do before the real battle begins next month.

“The competition is what allows you to get better,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “We’ll certainly look at this and pick up some big-picture things as well as some of the smaller things. It’s good to be in games like this. Obviously, you would have hoped it turns out the other way. But these are the types of games you want to be in. You want to feel what it’s like to be in them. You want to figure out how to win them.”

The Jazz can point to a couple of factors that hurt them Wednesday in Phoenix:

• An off-shooting night saw the Jazz go just 11-for-44 from beyond the arc.

“We played solid defense once again, but it’s hard to win the game, especially on the road, when you’re shooting 30 percent from 3 collectively,” said Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 20 points in the loss. “So great game. I mean, playoff-type mentality. But it’s tough to win when you shoot like that.”

• Rebounds and second-chance opportunities hurt the Jazz down the stretch. The Suns grabbed 16 offensive rebounds (the Jazz had 7) and out-scored the Jazz 18-9 on second-chance points.

The Jazz struggled early on in Phoenix, falling behind by as much as 13 and scoring a season-low 40 points in the first half.

“We didn’t come out as aggressive as we needed to—not just with the ball, but running and spacing and we weren’t attacking,” Snyder said. “They were dictating to us on the offensive end. I thought as the game progressed, we started spacing and really attacking off of pick and roll and opened some things up for ourselves. But they’re a good defensive team and we weren’t as dialed in as we needed to be in order to attack them.”

In the fourth quarter, Mitchell scored 13 of his game-high 41 points—including a 3-pointer to tie the game with 10 seconds to play in regulation. The Jazz guard then took on the challenge of defending Booker on the final shot of the quarter, forcing a miss and a chance to win the game in overtime.

“We responded the right way,” Mitchell said, “but we didn’t do it throughout the course of the game.”

In overtime, Booker and Chris Paul combined for 12 points to give Phoenix the win, moving the Suns within 1.5 games of the first-place Jazz (38-13) in the standings.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert had 16 points, 18 rebounds and three steals on the night. Guards Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson each scored 11.

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The Jazz now have face a quick turnaround, traveling back to Utah for a game against Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers on Thursday. “We can’t really dwell on this loss too much,” Mitchell said. “We have to go out there and play against a really good team, a hungry team, and we have to match their energy.”

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