It was a poetic way for the game to end.
Utah was down four with :39 seconds left after a Luka Doncic stepback 3, but then Donovan Mitchell fought for the offensive rebound off his own miss, went back up and earned a 3-point play. Then, after a couple of missed Mavericks’ free throws, Mitchell trusted Rudy Gobert with the lob on the roll on the biggest play of the Utah season — and this dunk means these Jazz are not dead yet.
SPIDA CLUTCH OOP TO GOBERT 🥶 pic.twitter.com/U3cnhBzGIa
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 23, 2022
On the final play, the Jazz blitzed Doncic, who moved the ball, Spencer Dinwiddie got a clean look at a three but missed, and Utah got the win, 100-99.
The series is now tied 2-2 heading back to Dallas. Rudy Gobert will get fined for doing this on national television, but he laid out the Jazz’s beliefs clearly.
"F–k the talk." 👀
Gobert didn't hold back postgame. pic.twitter.com/zRjrY0Wj88
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 23, 2022
Luka Doncic made his playoff debut after missing three games with a calf strain suffered in the final game of the regular season and finished with 30 points on 11-of-21 shooting, plus he had 10 rebounds and four assists.
Doncic was good, but we have seen better from him in the postseason. And while the defense focused on him, Dallas could do a better job getting Jalen Brunson — the hero of the two previous games — more involved in attacking mismatches. That said, Brunson still had 23 points on the night.
For Utah, this was the game they needed — particularly defensively. It was their most focused defensive effort of these playoffs.
While the Jazz stars deserve credit — Mitchell finished with 23 points, Gobert had 17 points and 15 rebounds — the play of Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson gave Utah a chance in this game. Bogdanovic played his best defensive game of the postseason on Doncic plus pitched in a dozen points, and Clarkson had a team-high 25 points and played respectable defense much of the night (a step up for him).
It was the kind of team play expected — but not seen often enough — from the Jazz this season. It was a game that will quiet the “break up this team” talk for a few days.
Can the Jazz replicate it two more times and advance out of the first round? It will take a lot more defense and a lot more of Mitchell trusting Gobert.