SALT LAKE CITY — With 4:40 left in Team USA’s 88-67 FIBA World Cup-opening win over the Czech Republic on Sunday, Donovan Mitchell got free.
He dribbled up the court, crossed over a Czech defender at the 3-point line and threw down an emphatic two-handed dunk to the joy of the sizeable crowd.
That highlight-reel dunk served as the finishing touch on what may have been Mitchell’s best performance yet in a Team USA jersey.
He had a team-high 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and added two rebounds and two assists for the Americans as they started their time in China with an easy win. Mitchell was in control, he set up teammates, and for much of the night looked like the best player on the court.
It came a day after Mitchell was the subject of an ESPN article with the headline: This is Donovan Mitchell’s moment.
Mitchell has been selected, even groomed, by head coach Gregg Popovich as one of the key leaders for this USA team. In his first meaningful game with the team, Mitchell didn’t disappoint.
"We did a lot of good things," Mitchell said. "We guarded it well. We've got a lot of things we can definitely work on, and I think this is a good start to the tournament."
Australia 108, Canada 92
The last time Joe Ingles played in a non-exhibition game, he was seen struggling as the Houston Rockets aggressively shaded the lefty to his right. At his end-of-season media availability in April, Ingles promised that would no longer be a weakness come next season.
He looks to have kept that promise.
Canada, which is coached by Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, deployed the same type of strategy on Ingles. How did he do against it? He scored 13 points and handed out nine assists to finish with a team-best plus/minus of plus-18.
He regularly made plays by going to his right, either setting up teammates or getting his own shot.
Things that should make Jazz fans everywhere happy.
Ingles was 4-for-9 in the game and also had five rebounds to finish with a well-rounded performance to help the Boomers start the tournament off with a win.
France 78, Germany 74
With under two minutes remaining and France holding onto a 3-point lead, Rudy Gobert took a bounce pass, rolled to the hoop and finished through contact with a scooping finger roll layup off the glass.
That proved to be quite the pivotal play in France’s 78-74 win over Germany. And probably got Jazz fans a little excited over how Gobert’s game continues to become more and more confident.
Gobert made the free throw to convert the three-point play, helping the French keep Germany at arm’s length.
While Donovan Mitchell was being awesome against the Czech Republic, Rudy Gobert was making some nice plays down the stretch to help France hold off Germany. pic.twitter.com/XmSpk5q8LT— Ryan Miller (@millerjryan) September 1, 2019
That wasn’t the only key moment for Gobert in the game’s closing minutes, either.
He also had a block out on the perimeter that led to a German turnover and then rolled inside for a two-handed dunk.
Gobert finished with 9 points, nine rebounds and five blocks for France.