'In any way possible': Mitchell takes over game late as Jazz beat Knicks


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SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell sprang up and ripped the ball away from New York's Mitchell Robinson. In the closing minutes with the game on the line, Utah's star guard was able to out jump New York's 7-foot center.

Mitchell wasn't done there.

As he fell back after grabbing the rebound, Mitchell quickly passed the ball to Udoka Azubuike for a two-handed dunk. That play encapsulated how Utah finished things Monday at Vivint Arena as Utah came back from double digits to beat the Knicks 113-104.

It was one of three plays coach Quin Snyder mentioned that Mitchell made late to help the Jazz win the game — none of them involved the All-Star guard scoring.

For five seasons, Mitchell has taken over games with his ability to score late. On Monday, he did just about everything else, too.

His other two plays: A rebound he had to fight and claw for and a steal that came from reading a play and blowing up a handoff.

"We can look at making a shot, we can look at making the right pass, but when you look at those three plays, like those are winning plays," Snyder said.

Such plays would have seemed like a pipe dream earlier in the half. The effort that led Mitchell to go toe-to-toe with the giants down low or that had the bench unit diving on the floor was nowhere to be seen. The Jazz jumped out to a 68-58 lead early in the third quarter and then the wheels fell off.

New York went on a 24-2 run and the Jazz (33-21) were all out of sorts. They weren't taking good shots, weren't even making the good ones, and Julius Randle, who finished with 30 points, continued to bully the Jazz.

It was an ugly stretch that was reminiscent of multiple ugly losses last month.

Snyder has consistently urged his team to find "silver linings" from that stretch. Maybe the Jazz did learn something after all.

You know how they call basketball a game of runs? Well, there's a reason that became a cliche.

The Jazz responded to New York's big run with a 28-10 surge of their own. Utah then finished the game on a 17-6 run to finish off the Knicks; the Jazz outscored the Knicks 31-18 in the fourth quarter. The win was Utah's third straight as they continue to recover from the turmoil-filled January stretch.

Mitchell credited the second unit for providing a stretch, Snyder said that Azubuike's competitiveness was a "differentiating factor," and Mike Conley said it excited the team to see Mitchell's all-around approach to the game late.

Those all contributed to the second-half turnaround.

The Knicks had 20 offensive rebounds in the game but just two in the fourth quarter as Azubuike, surprisingly, led a defensive effort that helped seal the win. The Knicks were held scoreless for nearly four minutes during the last five minutes of play, which helped the Jazz build a sizable advantage late.

"Guys made extra effort plays," Conley said. "We got killed on the offensive glass all night, but then at the end of the game, we made some big time box outs, big time rebounds, and you could feel the energy from those small but big plays."

The small but big plays were the theme of the game. One of those, however, led to the highlight of the night. Mitchell sniffed out a handoff in the final minute and punched the ball away up the court. When Mitchell got to it, he was all alone. He squared up and threw down a windmill dunk as an exclamation point in the win.

That was his third steal of the fourth quarter. The dunk was nice, but those takeaways were the real winning plays.

"Am I going to just sit there and let my team down like when everybody else is fighting?" Mitchell said. "... My teammates trust me and I got to go out there and do what I'm supposed to do in any way possible."

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