Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images
Kyle Korver offers words of encouragement for Donovan Mitchell after the Utah Jazz's tough Game 3 loss
Donovan Mitchell pulled his hood up, framing the disappointment on his face, and quietly chewed at the nail on his thumb. The Utah Jazz’s young star has taken each loss in this series with the Houston Rockets hard, each time shouldering the blame. This was no different.
“I just started missing shots,” Mitchell said.
Never mind that the Jazz guard finished with a game-high 34 points. On Saturday night, the Jazz fell 104-101 to the Rockets in Game 3 of this first-round series.
And Mitchell felt the pain of his 4-for-20 second half and for an open 3-point attempt that could have tied the game with just seconds to play.
“I can’t miss 16 shots in the second half,” he said. “That’s not my role. I can’t miss those shots. I have to be able to hit those.”
But at the same time the second-year guard sat at the dais and processed his struggles for reporters, the Jazz’s 16-year veteran was offering some perspective.
"I have never been around a young player like Donovan Mitchell. I have never seen someone so young take ownership of a team, take ownership of his play, do it with charisma, do it with class—I've never seen that my 16 years in the NBA." pic.twitter.com/oKljpgMhbj
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) April 21, 2019
“I have never been around a young player like Donovan Mitchell,” forward Kyle Korver said in the Jazz locker room. “I have never seen someone so young take ownership of a team, take ownership of his play, do it with charisma, do it with class. I have never seen that in my 16 years in the NBA.”
Mitchell finished with 34 points on 9-of-27 shooting and had five assists and six rebounds to his name Saturday. That’s why Rockets guard Chris Paul scoffed at a question about slowing Mitchell down.
“Slow him down? He had 34,” Paul said. “Donovan got it going. He got to the line 17 times. We just tried to make it tough on him.”
But, in the end, Mitchell would have traded points for a win. After Saturday’s 104-101 defeat at Vivint Smart Home Arena, the Jazz find themselves on the brink of elimination.
“I don’t think anybody’s just going to lay down Monday,” Mitchell said, looking ahead to Game 4. “That’s not going to be the case. The organization—that’s not what we’re based on. It’s an uphill battle, but we’re not just going to lay down and give them a game. That’s not who we are. That’s not who any of us are.”
It’s certainly not who Mitchell is.
“He missed a tough shot tonight, but that’s just going to be part of his story,” Korver said. “If you’ve played, you have a shot like that. If you don’t, that means you haven’t played any meaningful games or you haven’t been trusted by your coaches or teammates to take that shot. I don’t care who it is in history, everybody has a shot they want back. This is just going to be part of his story.
“… I’m super proud of him. He heard that he hadn’t played as well as he wanted to the first couple of games and he put the whole team on his back. That’s really special. He’s on a great path in the NBA.”