Donovan Mitchell shot 1-for-9 in the first half. He shot 0-for-3 in the final six minutes.
But he took over between then made his free throws at the end, scoring 30 of his 32 points in the second half to help the Jazz avoid a disconcerting loss to the Luka Doncic-less Mavericks, 99-93, in Game 1 of their first-round series Saturday in Dallas.
Really, the Mavericks – with tight defense against the NBA’s best regular-season offense – showed impressive resolve given the circumstances. Doncic’s playing time and shot creation would’ve really brought everything together. However, it seems unlikely he’ll return from his calf strain Game 2 Monday.
Up 11 with fewer than six minutes left, Utah – which has developed a troubling habit of blowing leads – let Dallas get within one. But Mike Conley hit a couple key shots, and Royce O’Neal knocked down a clutch 3-pointer.
Bogdan Bogdanovic (26 points on 11-of-20 shooting) was the Jazz’s most-reliable scorer, especially as Mitchell struggled early.
Staying big when Dallas went smaller, the Jazz ignored Jalen Green, who might not have cracked the playoff rotation if Doncic were healthy. Green (0-for-4 on 3-pointers, zero points in 10 minutes) did not make Utah pay.