Mitchell drew two early fouls on Brooks, the second while making a 3-pointer.
“I’m on his a**. I’m on his a**,” Mitchell appeared to yell. “Get the f*** out of here.”
Mitchell and the Jazz brought the intensity, beating Memphis 141-129 Wednesday.
When splitting the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home, teams have won the series 61% of the time. Utah’s advantage seems even greater entering Game 3 Saturday. The top-seeded Jazz were better than the Grizzlies throughout the season, and Utah’s postseason loss came without Mitchell.
But Memphis won’t wilt.
Ja Morant set a franchise playoff record with 47 points. He just kept attacking downhill and making good things happen, hitting shots, drawing fouls or finding open teammates as he scrambled the defense.
Yet, the Jazz stood up to the Grizzles – no more so than when Rudy Gobert blocked a soaring Morant at the rim:
Beyond swagger, Mitchell (25 points in 26 minutes) provided much-needed offensive creation. Utah’s system is designed for him to be the centerpiece. His presence allowed everyone to move back toward more-comfortable roles.
Rudy Gobert (21 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and four blocks) dominated both ends of the floor. Mike Conley (20 points and 15 assists) thrived with a little less defensive attention.
The Jazz must still play better to make the NBA Finals. Their defense slipped too much in the third quarter, when the Grizzlies cut a 20-point deficit to just two.
But this was a step in the right direction.