Don’t worry about the 10-of-25 shooting or the 0-of-7 mark from long range. Donovan Mitchell won a road playoff game for the Utah Jazz.
He scored 20 of his game-high 28 points in the second half and was integral to the Jazz’s most resilient stretch. Utah responded to a 19-0 third-quarter Thunder run by putting on an 18-3 surge of its own. And when the Jazz needed buckets down the stretch, Mitchell got them.
On the night, the star rookie finished with 28 points, six rebounds and two assists in 43 minutes. He did all of this after leaving Game 1 with a foot injury and seeing much more attention from defensive dynamo and human octopus Paul George.
The 55 points he scored in his first two playoff games are the most by a guard in league history, per ESPN Stats & Info, surpassing none other than Michael Jordan
The Rockets shouldn’t be able to win a game in which James Harden goes 2-of-18 from the field.
When he scores 44 points and takes over down the stretch like he did in Game 1? Sure. But not when he lays an egg the size of the Toyota Center.
Good thing Chris Paul is around.
CP3’s 27 points and eight assists in Wednesday’s 102-82 blowout Game 2 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves meant Harden’s off night didn’t matter. It helped that the T-Wolves couldn’t score and that the Rockets took 52 threes to Minnesota’s 18, but Paul’s mop-up work illustrated the benefits of the two-star system.
It had to feel especially rewarding for Paul after he struggled so badly in Game 1 and needed Harden to cover for him. Turnabout is fair play.
It’s hard to think of a preseason narrative debunked as quickly, consistently and decisively as the one asking how Harden and Paul would coexist.
When they both get rolling, good night.