SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell dribbled around a screen and saw nothing but the basket. Well, the basket and JaVale McGee. But that ended up not being too much of a problem.
Mitchell drove into the paint as if it was a runway, jumped off two feet and delivered a one-handed tomahawk jam all over McGee.
“Obviously, we feed off that,” Jae Crowder said. “And the crowd feed off that.”
That dunk was pretty much the beginning of the end for the Lakers. It kickstarted a run that pushed the Jazz’s lead to 20 points behind blocks, more dunks and a corner Joe Ingles’ 3-pointer that nearly popped the lid off of Vivint Arena.
It may have only been the second quarter, but Mitchell slam helped push Utah to a 113-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers Friday. And the rest of his game was pretty decent, too.
Mitchell finished with 33 points on 14-for-24 shooting with 9 assists and 4 rebounds. It was Mitchell’s fourth straight game with at least 26 points and his second straight that he went over 30 points.
“Honestly, the dunk was just a read,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t think too much of it. I just tried to move on to the next play. Understanding that if I made the dunk they were going to try and push in transition. That was where my head was at and that’s where everyone's head was at.”
It was Mitchell’s first start at point this season, and his performance helped hide the fact that Utah didn’t have a healthy point guard available on Friday. With Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum and Raul Neto all suffering injuries within a week of each other, the Jazz had to put even more responsibility on their young star. And once again, Mitchell was up to the task.
“Maybe in the first eight minutes of the game we saw him, somebody got hung up in a screen in a pick-and-roll, he hit a three,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “McGee or one of the other bigs was back, he pulled up, hit his midrange, attack the big on the rim and scored, attack the big on the rim, missed and Rudy (Gobert) dunked it. All those are attacking plays.”
Mitchell was tremendous, and so too was the Jazz’s defense, holding the Lakers to just 36 percent and 18.5 percent from the 3-point line. The task was a little easier than it might have been had LeBron James made the trip, but outside of a small run in the third quarter, the Lakers didn’t challenge the Jazz much in the second half.
Former Utah Ute Kyle Kuzma, who was a coming off a 41-point performance, was 4-for-18 from the field for 11 points. He didn’t score his first field goal until the third quarter.
The Jazz scored 19 points off turnovers and Mitchell said the team put an extra emphasis on getting stops in order to get out and run.
“When you have three point guards out, it’s tougher to run plays and tougher to control the game, so the only way for us to get out and get our buckets in transition is to get stops,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell’s night included a 4-for-5 3-point performance — the fourth time in the past five games, he’s shot over 50 percent from deep. Rudy Gobert finished with 12 points and 18 rebounds, Joe Ingles had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Derrick Favors finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Utah improved to 22-21 on the season — the first time its been above .500 since it was 7-6 after a win on Nov. 12.