Donovan Mitchell Pours in 30 as Jazz Rout Nuggets to Even Series 1-1

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2020

Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles, left, and guard Donovan Mitchell, right, celebrates against the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

Donovan Mitchell almost single-handedly led the Utah Jazz to victory in Game 1.

This time, his teammates helped pick up the slack.

Mitchell scored 30, and Jordan Clarkson added 26 off the bench as the Jazz soared to a 124-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of their first-round series. The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1.

Nikola Jokic (28 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) and Michael Porter Jr. (28 points, six rebounds) led the way for Denver.

Notable Stats


C Rudy Gobert: 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks

G Donovan Mitchell: 30 points, 8 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal

G Joe Ingles: 18 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds

G Jordan Clarkson: 26 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal


C Nikola Jokic: 28 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists

F Michael Porter Jr.: 28 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block

G Jamal Murray: 14 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds

Jazz Find Quin Snyder's Platonic Ideal in Game 2

For all of Mitchell's Game 1 heroics, their offensive flow was born out of a Snyder nightmare. With every player not wearing No. 45 struggling, the Jazz abandoned their egalitarian offensive approach in favor of a series of high pick-and-rolls and isolations for Mitchell, who responded with the third-highest scoring total in playoff history.

The Jazz were back in Game 2, running Snyder's pet sets as Mitchell and Joe Ingles traded off primary ball-handling duties. Mitchell still got his occasional iso, as did Jordan Clarkson with the second unit, but this level of offensive fluidity and even distribution of scoring was Snyder's platonic ideal.

With Bojan Bogdanovic out and Mike Conley in quarantine after leaving the bubble for the birth of his son (with a potential return for Game 3 in the offing), it looked like Mitchell was going to have to bear the entire responsibility for Utah's scoring.

Clarkson and Ingles showed in Game 2 that they could provide some much-needed help to Mitchell, who needed only 14 shots for his 30 points.

Denver, MPJ Find Perfect Match

Lost in the blowout was another solid performance by Michael Porter Jr., who has been among the bubble's breakout players. He's been in double figures every game in the bubble, including five games with over 20 points.

While there are clear warts in Porter's game—he's yet to find a shot he doesn't like and gets lost regularly on off-ball defense—his star potential is obvious every time he steps on the floor. 

The same is true about Denver's decision to take a calculated risk and take him with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2018 draft. One pick before, the Clippers took Jerome Robinson. Porter has about as many points in the bubble as Robinson had throughout his entire Clippers career. In a 2018 re-draft, there is little doubt Porter would be among the top half-dozen players taken.

Porter is likely just as thankful that he landed in Denver as the Nuggets are that he's there. With a roster already laden with depth, the Nuggets could afford to be patient as Porter missed all of the 2018-19 campaign and worked his way slowly into the fold this season.

Even as Porter flashed occasional brilliance in a limited role, the Nuggets never pushed too hard until injuries forced their hand. Porter has soared since taking Will Barton's spot in the starting lineup and looks like a potential third star next to Jokic and Jamal Murray. 

If he were thrown into the deep end in a worse situation, Porter's development may have gone off the rails. Or, worse yet, his back may have never gotten the necessary time to heal.