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SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell had a very unsettling image enter his mind. It was of a fan sitting courtside in Sacramento with a pile of vomit in front of him. He didn't want to be that guy.
"Honesty, that's exactly where my head went," he said with a smile. "I was damn near ready to walk off mid-play."
Early on in Friday's 128-126 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Mitchell was struck in the stomach in the perfect spot — actually, the not-so-perfect spot. He was suddenly nauseous and felt the dreaded sensation boiling up in his chest.
Fortunately, at that moment, Jazz coach Quin Snyder called for a timeout, which gave Mitchell a chance to escape the court and let his body calm down. That was the start of a night full of nausea for the Jazz All-Star guard.
"You get hit in the stomach, and get hit in the right spot and it starts to come up," Mitchell said. "I didn't plan on doing this on the floor. I ran off both times."
The first time was early in the first quarter: Mitchell was the first player to check out but was back in a minute later. It continued to creep up throughout the game in spurts. He said he was feeling his best in the second quarter. Was it a coincidence the Jazz took a 17-point lead during that quarter?
"I was a little messed up from the jump, once it happened in the first quarter," Mitchell said. "Those things come in waves."
He said the waves weren't super regular over the course of the game, but they were strong. One of those came in the middle of the fourth quarter of a tight game — quite the inopportune time for the Jazz to not have their leading scorer and closer.
MItchell checked out at the 5:20 mark and missed nearly three minutes of game time before feeling well enough to check back in.
It happened so suddenly that his teammates were even caught off guard. One moment, Mike Conley was spacing in the corner and the next he was being told by Snyder to go win the game.
Conley, to his credit, responded by hitting two 3-pointers during the time Mitchell was trying to fend off the nausea. The second triple tied the game at 117-117.
"We didn't know what was going on — where's Don at?" Conley said. "Our roles change in a split second so we all just have to adapt in those situations."
Mitchell checked back in with 2:37 left in the contest and didn't look like he was impacted too much. On his first possession back, he split two defenders and slipped inside for a layup. He then muscled his way to the basket and scored through contact for a 3-point play. Then, with 33 seconds left, he hit a turnaround jumper to put the Jazz on top.
His final layup, though, the one that would have won the game for the Jazz, rolled off the rim, which gave another reason for him to feel a bit ill.
"Don was obviously fighting through it and played the best he could while in that kind of situation. I thought we handled it well," Conley said. "Still should have came away with a win."