SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 3: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz slam dunks the ball against the Boston Celtics during the second half of their game on December 3, 2021 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

High-Scoring Affair Ends With Utah Victorious Over Boston

Thanks to a combined 63 points from its all-star backcourt of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz used a late fourth-quarter run to take down the Celtics 137-130 on Friday night

When talking about the best backcourts in the NBA, there's always a heated debate that follows. 

The Phoenix duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker is usually the first mentioned. Then an argument breaks out regarding when Klay Thompson returns to the Warriors to pair with Stephen Curry. The talk usually moves to the sharp-shooting duo from Portland in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum next.

Finally, Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley are mentioned — as maybe the fourth-best in the Western Conference.

For anybody who believes that's the case, that the Jazz duo is the fourth-best backcourt in the league, they may want to reassess the situation after what unfolded on Friday night at Vivint Arena.

Thanks to a sensational fourth quarter from Mitchell and Conley, Utah rallied late to take down Boston 137-130 in one of the highest-scoring games in the league this year.

"Our two guards were terrific," head coach Quin Snyder said of Mitchell and Conley. 

He wasn't wrong. 

Mitchell finished with a team-high 34 points on 12-of-22 shooting from the floor and 6-of-14 from beyond the arc. He added six assists and finished with a +12 rating.

His backcourt mate in Conley might've been better — that's up for discussion — finishing with 29 points. He shot 9-for-13 from the field and a perfect 7-for-7 from three-point territory, adding seven assists and four rebounds in a team-high +21 rating.

"Tonight was different," Conley said first during his postgame media session.

The fourth quarter is where they decided to take over — together. 

Over the final 4:58 of the game, the duo combined to score 24 of Utah's 28 points. They shot 7-for-7 from the floor, five of which came from beyond the arc — and Conley added four free throws in the end for good measure. The only points they didn't score were back-to-back dunks by Rudy Gobert, both of which came on Conley's assists.

"It was just fluid. … We knew exactly where we needed to be," Mitchell said of the final few minutes of the game. "It was boom-boom-boom. I gotta give coach credit. … We've been through every situation, we've seen everything eight times in practice."

It was more than just a great showing by Utah's all-star backcourt. The Jazz had six players finish in double figures, including all five starters who finished with positive +/- ratings. 

Gobert added his 17th double-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks. Most impressively, the big man was able to finish the game after picking up his fifth foul with 6:01 to play, all while staying aggressive on defense and spearheading a late 13-2 run that depicted the outcome.

After missing the past few games due to a right ankle/foot sprain, Royce O'Neale finished with his first double-double of the season. Just hours after being referred to as the "heartbeat of the team," he dropped 12 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in his most complete performance of the year.

"That bell keeps ringing, and he keeps answering," Snyder said of O'Neale. "What he's given us in terms of his toughness defensively, and he's been really consistent and really opportunistic making his shot."

The game didn't start close as Conley was hot quick, knocking down three three-pointers as the Jazz rushed out to a 14-2 lead and eventually led 38-25 after the first quarter. 

But Utah could not capitalize in the second quarter as sloppy play and suspect defense got the better of them. Boston battled back to outscore the Jazz 31-21 in the second quarter, leading to a 59-56 Utah lead at the half.

"In the first half, there was a stretch where we turned it over, and a lot of them were unforced," Snyder said.

"The only thing that let them back in the game was our turnovers, we did a lot of things well, but our defense let them get back," Mitchell added.

The second half is when defenses were thrown out the door, and it was all about the offenses. 

Both teams scored 41 points in the third quarter in one of the most entertaining quarters of any game this season. There were 10 ties and 14 lead changes as both teams exchanged punches like a heavyweight fight.

The Jazz just happened to land the final blows from Mitchell and Conley.

Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points while Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles combined for 20 points (6-of-14 from deep) off the bench.

Jayson Tatum finished with a game-high 37 points, six rebounds, and five assists, while Dennis Schroeder added 26 points.

Utah now heads back to the east coast for a four-game road trip, beginning with Cleveland on Sunday night. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. MST.

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