Just three seasons into his NBA career, Donovan Mitchell has made sure his name is mentioned in the same sentence with the greatest player of all time. Today, he scored 51 points against the Denver Nuggets, becoming only the third player in NBA history to post multiple 50-point games in the same playoff series. The two others? Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson.
Mitchell’s reaction after the final buzzer?
“They won. I haven’t done anything yet. All I did, all we did was win Game 4. Fifty is fifty, but we’re looking to close the series out,” he told TNT in a postgame interview.
Utah’s young star added that he was honored “to be in that category”.
“I’m very humbled and blessed, but we still have one more game, and that’s really what’s on my mind. We fought hard, we knew they were going to come out, and that was a big game for all of us. That’s where really my head is at [right now],” he said.
In a game that will also go down in NBA history as the first playoff tie featuring two players on opposing teams score at least 50 points, the Jazz prevailed 129-127 to clinch a 3-1 lead in the series. The Nuggets’ Jamal Murray cleared the 50-point mark with a buzzer-beating three-pointer, but that will hardly provide any comfort to Denver. The Jazz are 9-0 in franchise history in playoff series in which they had a 3-1 lead.
Mitchell hit 15 of his 27 shots from the field, including four threes, and was almost impeccable from the free-throw line (17-18). On Aug. 17, he also scored 51 against the Nuggets in the series opener, but Jazz lost the game in overtime, 125-135.
Today, after hitting a key three-pointer with 54.1 seconds remaining to lift his team’s lead to four, 122-118, Mitchell forced the Nuggets head coach Mike Malone to call a timeout.
“I want this s**t!” a jubilant Mitchell screamed.
When asked to explain how badly he wanted it, he praised Utah’s team effort.
“I’m not going to say much right now, we have one more game, but without Bojan [Bogdanović] it really shows what type of team we have,” said Mitchell, adding that all the summer work he and his teammates had put in is now paying off.
“At the end of the day, I had 50, Mike Conley had 26, Rudy [Gobert] has 17 and 11, Royce [O’Neale] has played hell of a defense. Murray had 50, we have to give them credit, but we fought and won. We have one more game and I want to win. We want to win, I speak for my teammates when I say we want this,” he added.
For Utah, Game 5 strategy is simple – if they want to close out the series, they can’t let up, says Mitchell.
“We can’t be complacent. They are going to be even more hungry for next game. To get the next one, we got to stay locked in and do what we do. We showed a hell of an effort. We get up 127 points, there’s stuff we can fix. We’re going to go back, watch the film, and be ready for Game 5,” summed up Mitchell.