"This Is Who We Are" | Max Effort On Both Ends Leads Utah To Victory

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

Entering Saturday afternoon, 701 teams had tried, yet only three had found success.

Make it four.

The Utah Jazz became a part of history when they overcame a four-point deficit with less than 40 seconds to play to take down Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. A three-point play by Donovan Mitchell and an alley-oop dunk by Rudy Gobert proved to be all the offense the Jazz needed in securing the 100-99 victory.

"This is the team we want to be, this is who we are," Gobert said postgame. "Now, do it every night, every minute. … Whoever is on the court, play with intensity."

Here are five things to know following the win:

1.) Utah Overcomes Late-Game DemonsAfter what's been well-documented over the past month, the Jazz have struggled during the clutch — the final five minutes of the game — throughout the year. More often than not, they've been unable to get critical defensive stops while struggling to generate efficient offense — issues that made it seem like Utah had a mental block.

It appeared the Jazz were heading towards another heart-breaking defeat on Saturday afternoon when Doncic, playing in his first game this series, knocked down a deep three-pointer over Gobert — giving Dallas a four-point lead with 39.6 seconds left.

Not so fast.

Mitchell responded quickly for Utah, grabbing his offensive rebound and putting it back up for an and-one, cutting the deficit to one with 31.2 seconds to play. After Dwight Powell missed a pair of free throws with 19.8 seconds left, the Jazz had one more chance to win.

With 11 seconds remaining, trailing by one, and the season hanging in the balance, Mitchell and Gobert ran the pick-and-roll to perfection. After being double-teamed, Mitchell found Gobert for an alley-oop dunk, giving the Jazz a lead they would never relinquish.

"He made the right play with the lob. … I just had to finish it," Gobert said.

While the win was excellent, the execution in the end gives Utah some much-needed momentum moving forward — a scary thought if they can continue to figure out how to finish games.

"It hasn't been the greatest regular season as far as crunch time for me, but I'm not going to sit there and let that affect how we continue to go throughout the rest of the playoffs," Mitchell said.

2.) Bojan Bogdanovic Plays 94-Feet Of DefenseJalen Brunson had been a one-man wrecking crew for Dallas through the first three games of the series, averaging 32 points on 41.2% shooting from beyond the arc. Adding in the return of Doncic, an all-NBA player and widely considered one of the best clutch performers in the games, it appeared that the Jazz were going to have no answer for the Mavericks' newly-formed two-headed monster.

Instead of having no answer, the Jazz held the kryptonite altogether — and it came from high-scoring forward Bojan Bogdanovic.

Rather than dropping the 25 points he'd been averaging through the first three games of the series, Bogdanovic focused on defense and made the game's most significant impact on that end of the court. From picking up either player for the entire 94-feet to constantly being a nuisance with his ball pressure and physicality, Bogdanovic was sensational all game.

"That was the coaches idea, and I also wanted to guard their best players," he said. "I just wanted to bother them. … I tried to pressure them full court. It's a lot of energy you spend guarding full court, especially since you're involved in every single action. I think the whole team did a great job defensively."

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if he can continue to give that sort of effort and be that much of an issue for the Mavericks over the rest of the series — a key component if the Jazz are to survive and advance.

3.) Jordan Clarkson Rises To The OccasionWith Bogdanovic typically serving as the secondary scorer for the Jazz but much of his energy being used on the defensive end, it meant someone else was going to need to step up.

Jordan Clarkson, who's been sensational in the playoffs, answered the call.

He finished with a team-high 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor, including an efficient 3-of-5 from three-point territory. He added four rebounds and finished with a +18 rating in 36 minutes.

The reigning sixth man of the year gave Utah a lift and really frustrated Dallas with a bevy of moves inside and outside the arc. His ability to break down any defender and get to the paint was dominant, allowing the Jazz to be in rhythm when the ball would get kicked out to open shooters.

"When I walked into the gym. … I'm still the same guy just trying to win a game," Clarkson said about when he knew he was feeling it. "I'm just staying in the moment and doing what I can to help."

"He's locked in on both ends," Mitchell said of Clarkson. "The way he finished tonight's game, he's doing everything. He's hitting his shots, but he's also being able to get into the paint and create. and find guys. … He's a guy that steps up every time."

Clarkson is averaging 17.5 points on 50% shooting from beyond the arc, emerging as a legitimate offensive threat who gives life to the Jazz when they turn to their bench.

4.) Defensive Rotations A Lot More Active Before tipoff on Saturday, a lot of the storyline heading in was Utah's inability to generate stops on defense, let alone contest shots of any sort.

The Mavericks were making a living from three-point territory, getting way too many open shots as Dallas' guards were winning at the point of attack and breaking down the Jazz defense with relative ease.

But that all changed on Saturday as Utah had a much more concentrated effort on the defensive end. The rotations weren't always perfect, but the Jazz flew around and gave maximum effort, resulting in fewer open shots.

Dallas was held to 34.1% (15-for-44) shooting from three-point territory — and if not for a breakout third quarter in which they went 8-for-11 — the Jazz limited the Mavericks to just 21.2%.

Defense is strictly about effort and communication, and Utah had that in spades on Saturday — and if they can keep doing that, they'll have a chance at stealing back homecourt on Monday night.

5.) Rudy Gobert A Presence On OffenseIt wasn't the most productive game for Gobert when it came on the offensive end — despite finishing with 17 points and 15 rebounds. He shot just 4-for-8 from the field and 9-for-18 from the free throw line.

While those numbers are below his season and postseason averages, the output was his most productive as Utah made a significant effort to feed him the ball. He was also a menace when rebounding on the offensive end, finishing with a season-high 10 offensive rebounds.

Gobert's effort is needed when the Mavericks elect to go small — punishing Dallas down low with Gobert as the primary factor.