Donovan Mitchell’s dunk changed everything on Tuesday night. With the Jazz trailing by seven in the fourth quarter, Mitchell drove down the lane and rose up to jam the ball in traffic over Nikola Vucevic.
The highlight-reel play awoke a moribund offense and energized the crowd, sparking a late spurt that sent Utah past the Orlando Magic 109-102.
“On a play like that, you can’t lay it up, you’ve got to go up there and try and dunk it,” Mitchell said. “I really don’t know how it happened. I didn’t dunk in warmups. I just didn’t have any legs.”
However, Mitchell found plenty of energy when Utah needed him most. He finished with 30 points, including eight as the Jazz (16-11) closed the game on a 19-5 run for their third victory in a row.
“The guys kept their focus. There was no hanging their heads,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We didn’t let those mistakes pull us apart, but they brought us together and that’s what the game at the end reflected.”
Bojan Bogdanovic scored nine of his 30 points during the decisive surge, while Joe Ingles had 16 points and a season-high 12 rebounds.
Bogdanovic and Mitchell’s two-man game was unstoppable down the stretch as they became the first Jazz duo to score 30 points each in a game since Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer did it in 2008.
“When it gets to six minutes and under, Bogey doesn’t miss. To have that type of confidence ... it makes our team so much better and we missed that at times last year,” Mitchell said.
“There’s a great, great connection between us ... especially at the end of games,” he said.
D.J. Augustin had 22 points off the bench, including 14 in the fourth quarter, and Evan Fournier added 19 for the Magic, who fell to 12-15.
“The game was there for us to take it. We just didn’t make plays in the last three minutes. It [stinks], because we fought our way back,” Vucevic said.
After a three-pointer by Ingles and a free throw by Ed Davis, the Jazz led 82-65.
However, the Magic mounted a quick comeback against Utah’s struggling bench players.
Fournier’s basket capped a 12-0 run to get the Magic to 82-77 early in the final quarter. Orlando then overcame an eight-point deficit to lead 97-90 after a 15-0 spurt powered by Augustin’s seven points.
A game after hitting a season-high 17 three-pointers, the Magic missed their first 10 attempts from beyond the arc and ended up seven for 35 from three-point range as they seemed reticent to challenge Rudy Gobert inside.
“Obviously, it opens up a lot of things when you can make threes — especially with a guy like Rudy inside. You want to split him off, but if you keep missing, he’s going to stay in there,” Fournier said.
Gobert had a double-double by halftime with 10 points and 12 rebounds as the Jazz built a 58-47 lead at the break.
“We fought hard, so I just told the guys: ‘Look, if we would have played as hard in the first half, we might have won,’” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said.
Mike Conley returned for the Jazz after missing five games with a tight hamstring, but left in the third quarter when the pain returned. He had seven points and six assists.
Ingles, who has primarily been a reserve this season, began starting when Conley was out, and has been scoring and shooting at a much higher clip. The Australian forward stayed in the starting lineup on Tuesday.
Vucevic, in his second game back after an 11-game absence, had 12 points on four-of-15 shooting. He grabbed 11 rebounds.
In other results, it was:
‧ Pacers 105, Lakers 102
‧ Clippers 120, Suns 99
‧ Nets 108, Pelicans 101, OT
‧ Hornets 110, Kings 102
‧ Knicks 143, Hawks 120
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