Donovan Mitchell joins Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson in NBA history – Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Paul Millsap picked a really bad time to have a staring contest with Donovan Mitchell.

For that matter, the Denver Nuggets picked a really bad time to play Donovan Mitchell.

Late in the fourth quarter of Game 4 Sunday night in Orlando, the former Utah Jazz power forward blocked a driving layup attempt by Mitchell and then looked back at the guard and glared at him while he was on the floor.

Mitchell didn’t stay on the court long.

He also had his own reason to stare down Millsap a few seconds later.

With just under a minute to go in this wild and wacky and thoroughly entertaining playoff game, Mitchell got the ball beyond the arc after having his shot blocked. Within a matter of seconds, Mitchell shot over Millsap and the ball was snapping the bottom of the net for a clutch 3-pointer that gave the Jazz a four-point lead with 54.1 seconds left.

Mitchell blurted out several times that he wanted that shot (or something like that) over Millsap as he went to the sideline. He then hit four free throws in a row — and five of six down the stretch — to help give the Jazz a 3-1 first-round series lead against the favored third-seeded Nuggets.

Less than a week after his franchise-record 57-point explosion in a Game 1 overtime loss, Mitchell produced a crazy-good sequel with 51 points in a regulation victory.

Mitchell’s offensive outburst wasn’t upstaged this time by the Nuggets. In fact, he managed to overshadow an equally terrific scoring night by Denver’s explosive Jamal Murray, who also scored 50 points. It marked the first time in NBA history that two opponents each scored 50 or more.

Impressively, Mitchell became just the third player in NBA history to have two 50-point games in the same series, joining Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson.

“I haven’t done anything yet to be honest. All we did was win Game 4,” Mitchell said during the walk-off interview with TNT. “Fifty’s 50, but we’re looking to close this series out. I’m honored to be in that category. I’m very humbled and blessed, but we still have one game left. That’s all that’s on my mind.”

You might say he’s in a Utah state of mind.

There was a rumor out of New York this weekend that the Knicks desperately hope to acquire the Empire State native in the near future.

Memo to the Knickerbockers: Every team on Earth wants Donovan Mitchell in the near future.

The team that currently has the superstar couldn’t be more ecstatic that No. 45 is on their squad.

For the fourth time in the Utah Jazz’s series against the Denver Nuggets, Mitchell had a brilliant performance.

Superstar might be underselling what the third-year guard is doing right now. He’s currently playing like the most brilliant hypergiant in the universe — which is intended to be a hyperbolic compliment even though it’s unknown if celestial objects can actually shoot the ball.

Though he still remains focused on closing out this series, which the Jazz can do Tuesday, Mitchell is happy that he’s playing much better than he did in the personally disappointing 2019 playoffs. And he was quick to dole out credit to his teammates for the win, too.

“We can’t let up,” he added.

This game really meant more to the Nuggets, and their streaky-hot shooting guard, Jamal Murray, played like it.

Mitchell showed early on in this game, which really resembled Game 1 except for how the Jazz finished the Nuggets off in regulation, that he wasn’t messing around.

Denver came out playing better than it had the previous two games, but Spida made certain the Nuggets didn’t get out of the Jazz’s reach. He sparked a 9-2 run in the first quarter with assists to Royce O’Neale and Rudy Gobert and a couple of baskets of his own.

That was a trend almost all night. Every time the Jazz needed something to happen, Mitchell stepped up. Bonus: Teammates like Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson and Gobert did, too.

The only bad thing about Mitchell’s masterpiece, which included trading big bucket for big bucket with Murray and 15-of-27 shooting, four 3s, 17-for-18 shooting from the free-throw line and 18 fourth-quarter points?

And, no, the answer isn’t that he finally missed a free throw in the final seconds after hitting his previous 16 in the game and 41 of 42 in the series.

Nah, the only bummer is that this performance for the ages — something Mitchell is making a habit of — didn’t take place in front a loud and proud non-COVID-19 crowd in Utah.

“We can’t be complacent. They’re going to be even more hungry,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to stay locked in and do what we do.”

That means you won’t want to miss Game 5. The way Mitchell is playing it just might include another 50-point thriller.

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