Fri, May 04, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Ingles, Mitchell shine as Jazz defeat Rockets 116-108


The Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, left, looks for a way around the Houston Rockets’ Luc Mbah in the first half of Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference semi-finals at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Utah had a four-point lead in the fourth quarter on Wednesday night when Donovan Mitchell missed a jumper and sailed above three Houston Rockets to grab the rebound and finish with a nifty one-handed slam.

He did it right near the Jazz bench and his teammates went wild, cheering and pretending to fall backward on each other in awe.

Joe Ingles led the Jazz with a career-high 27 points, but it was the star rookie who provided the highlight of the night as the Jazz evened the Western Conference semi-finals 1-1 with a 116-108 win.

Ingles made a career-best seven three-pointers, while Mitchell added 17 points and a franchise rookie-record 11 assists for his first game this post-season in which he scored fewer than 20 points and did not lead the team in scoring.

However, he certainly provided an emotional boost to his team with his highlight reel-worthy play.

He smiled broadly when it was brought up post-game, saying that he was just trying to get the rebound on his miss when he made a split-second decision.

“I just happened to be up there,” he said. “So I said: ‘Why come down with it?’”

The Jazz squandered a huge early lead before using a big fourth quarter to regain control and head home for Game 3 in Utah today with a chance to take a series lead over the top-seeded Rockets.

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said Mitchell was the key to the win, even though he did not lead the team in scoring.

“He was breaking us down,” D’Antoni said. “He was getting in there and was finding guys in the corner. He’s a handful whether he’s finishing or not.”

The Jazz were behind by two with eight minutes left before using a 16-2 run to pull away.

After trailing by 25 points at halftime of the 110-96 loss in the series opener, the Jazz jumped out to an early lead on Wednesday and led by as many as 19 in the first half.

“Last game, we came out completely opposite. Tonight, they kind of caught us off-guard,” Houston’s James Harden said. “We adjusted to it in that second quarter, but we can’t get down 19, no matter who we’re playing.”

Houston regained the lead in the third quarter, but could not keep pace with the Jazz in the fourth as their normally potent offense went cold.

Harden had 32 points and 11 assists, while Chris Paul added 23 points as Houston fell to the Jazz for the first time this season after winning the first five meetings.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder was pleased at his team’s balanced scoring effort on a night six players finished in double figures, raving about the contribution of Ingles.

“Every time Joe has needed to step up his game, he has been able to,” Snyder said. “He’s committed to that. He knew tonight he would need to make some shots and he was able to do it.”

Houston were down by one entering the fourth, but Utah scored eight straight points with three-pointers from Dante Exum and Jae Crowder before Mitchell’s dunk made it 100-94.

Harden made a basket after that before Utah scored another eight straight points, with two three-pointers from Ingles, to make it 108-96 with four-and-a-half minutes left.

Harden ended a more than two minute Houston scoring drought with a three-pointer about a minute later that was the start of a 9-3 run that got the Rockets to 111-105 with 1 minute, 46 seconds left.

However, Rudy Gobert made one of two free throws before Exum put it out of reach with a dunk.

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