Donovan Mitchell put up a career performance in Game 1 of the Utah Jazz’s first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets on Monday afternoon.
But it’s not his 57 points that he’s thinking about after the game inside the NBA’s bubble at Walt Disney World.
It’s the 8-second violation he committed late in the fourth quarter, which eventually allowed the Nuggets to force the game into overtime and eventually win, 135-125.
“That’s my fault as a leader and as a point guard at that time,” Mitchell said, via ESPN. “That’s terrible on my part.”
Donovan Mitchell’s 8-second violation
Mitchell started bringing the ball up the court slowly with 1:54 left in the game. The Jazz held a four-point lead at the time and had reclaimed possession after Rudy Gobert blocked Nikola Jokic’s shot in the paint and grabbed the ball.
Jokic knocked the ball out of Gobert’s hands and out of bounds, however, which took two seconds and dropped the play clock down to 22 seconds instead of the normal 24 leaving six seconds to bring the ball across midcourt.
Mitchell, though, didn’t realize that as he started walking the ball up the court. By the time he neared the halfcourt line, it had already been a full eight seconds and officials called him for the rare mistake.
“I kind of put that ... there’s really no one else to put it on,” Mitchell said, via ESPN. “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.”
Mitchell’s right in that the loss can’t be put on that play alone. The Nuggets ended the game on a 25-16 run after that point, 18 points of which came from Jamal Murray. He ended with 36 points and nine assists while shooting 6-of-9 from the 3-point line.
Mitchell’s 57 points — which he backed up with nine rebounds and seven assists while shooting 19-of-33 from the field — marks the third-most in NBA playoff history behind Elgin Baylor and Michael Jordan, who dropped 63 against the Celtics in 1986.
“We executed a lot of things right. We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board and just be ready,” Mitchell said. “But a lot of it is really what you did before you got here. I think our effort today as a unit, I think, showed the work that we put in over the break and coming into [the bubble].”
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