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The Roundup—Mitchell scores 25, Jazz still fall to OKC

by Matt Payne

A sluggish first half gave way to an exciting finish, but the Jazz couldn't quite make up their early deficit in a 98-89 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night in Salt Lake City.

"I liked how we competed on the defensive end. The offense will come. We've just got to maintain a defensive mindset," Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. "It was a tough night offensively. We had some open looks and missed some stuff at the rim, and at one point cut it to five in spite of that. I thought we hung in there and competed. Sometimes in a game you break through. We were close, but that didn't happen."

Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 25 points, while Rudy Gobert (15 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks) recorded his 52nd double-double of the season.

Royce O'Neale (17 points, eight rebounds) and Jae Crowder (12 points, eight rebounds) also scored in double figures in the loss.

The Jazz (37-29) shot just 36.0 percent from the field and committed 25 fouls.

Dennis Schroder came off the bench to lead OKC (41-26) with 24 points. Russell Westbrook (23 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) and Paul Geoege (14 points, 11 rebounds) also double-doubled in the win.

Monday's Best

Mitchell scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half to kick-start Utah's offense, and he added four rebounds, five assists, five steals (a new season high) and a block in 37 minutes. The second-year guard has now scored at least 25 points 26 times this season.

Key Stretches

The game was close early, but OKC opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run and eventually outscored Utah 28-16 in the period to take a 13-point lead into halftime.

Mitchell canned two threes and then found Gobert for an alley-oop dunk to spark a 12-1 Jazz run early in the third quarter. Within three minutes, Utah had cut OKC's 16-point lead down to five.

The Thunder, though, closed the third period on a 17-8 run to take a 14-point lead into the final quarter.

An 11-0 run by the Jazz—punctuated by a step-back three and then driving dunk by Mitchell—pulled the Jazz back within six just four minutes into the fourth quarter.

The game went back and forth from there, with Utah cutting the deficit to seven before falling by nine.

Significant Stats

30.2

The Jazz struggled mightily from long distance, shooting only 13-for-43 (30.2 percent) as a team from 3-point range. That number would have been worse if not for a 5-for-9 fourth quarter. O'Neale (5-for-10 from deep) and Mitchell (3-for-8) were Utah's lone bright spots from beyond the arc.

23

Utah scored 23 points off of OKC's 16 turnovers, while the Thunder converted the Jazz's 14 turnovers into 10 points.

-10

The Jazz committed 25 fouls, and OKC shot 27 free throws to Utah's 17.

Coach's Quote of the Night

"We really worked our tails off defensively, particularly in the half court, and we weren't able to convert on the other end. That puts more pressure on our defense."

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

Notable

Danté Exum (ankle) returned to the court after missing the past 25 games. He shot 0-for-5 from the field and finished with three assists and two turnovers in 15 minutes. ... Ricky Rubio (hip) and Raul Neto (hamstring) were out for the Jazz. ... George shot only 2-for-8 from the field, but went 10-for-12 from the line. ... Each team grabbed 48 rebounds. ... Utah held a 15-9 advantage in second-chance points, while OKC outscored the Jazz 15-8 in transition.

Up Next

The Jazz will hit the road to take on the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 8:00pm MT.