Jazz's Donovan Mitchell on Late 8-Second Violation: 'That's Terrible on My Part'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2020

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) takes the ball down the court during an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Considering he poured in 57 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, it's hard to blame Donovan Mitchell for the Utah Jazz's 135-125 overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets in Monday's Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series. But he accepted responsibility for a key eight-second violation in the final minutes of regulation.

"It's tough to lose the first game ... but there's a lot of things we could control," Mitchell said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. "I put a little bit on myself for the eight-second violation, and then they come down and hit a three, and that really changed the entire game, that sequence right there."  

"That's my fault as a leader and as a point guard at that time," he added. "That's terrible on my part."

Utah was nursing a four-point lead with momentum and the ball with 1:46 remaining when Mitchell was whistled for the violation. The Nuggets responded with a Jamal Murray three-pointer during the ensuing possession before forcing overtime and earning the win.

The mistake came in part because he had just six seconds to get across half court since two seconds came off the clock when the ball was knocked out of bounds following Rudy Gobert's rebound.

"I kind of put that ... there's really no one else to put it on," Mitchell said. "I was just taking my time walking it up, and I've got to be more aware. I think that was a crucial part of the game. At the end of the day, I'm not going to put it all on that one play, but that was a crucial part."

It was fitting that Murray hit the three-pointer on the next possession since he carried the Nuggets to the win in crunch time.

Murray finished with 36 points and nine assists, but it was his work with the game on the line that stood out most. Bontemps noted the University of Kentucky product scored 18 points in the final 1:46 of regulation and overtime, which was more than the Jazz (16) scored in that same timeframe.

It was enough to counterbalance Mitchell's 57 points, which was the third-highest individual scoring output in league history for a playoff game behind Michael Jordan (63) and Elgin Baylor (61).

In addition to the eight-second violation, Utah will likely look toward its perimeter defense when assessing what went wrong Monday. The Nuggets shot 53.7 percent from three-point range, taking advantage of Mike Conley's absence and hitting a number of outside shots when the Jazz collapsed on Nikola Jokic.

Game 2 of the series is Wednesday.