Donovan Mitchell scored 25 points in his much-anticipated return from a sprained ankle and the Utah Jazz overcame Ja Morant’s franchise-record 47 points in a 141-129 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, tying the first-round playoff series at a game apiece.
Mitchell, who was limited to 26 minutes, made five 3-pointers. Rudy Gobert had 21 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks for the Jazz.
Morant broke Conley’s Memphis playoff scoring record, and became the first player to score as many as 71 points in his first two career playoff games since the NBL merged with the BAA to create the NBA before the 1949-50 season.
Two Gobert dunks off pick-and-rolls powered a 10-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters and gave the Jazz a 110-97 lead following a three-point play by Mitchell.
Dillon Brooks, who scored 23 points, had a dunk that got the Grizzlies within 121-112 with 7:06 to play, but Memphis couldn’t stop Utah’s multifaceted attack, which scored at least 36 points in three of the four periods.
Mitchell was ready to play on Sunday, but the Jazz medical staff scratched him from the lineup hours before the game, frustrating the Utah star who missed 17 games with a sprained ankle.
Mitchell’s anger simmered as he watched the Jazz drop Game 1 to a motivated Memphis squad. He eventually met with his teammates and made sure they knew it wasn’t his decision to sit, and that he wanted to be on the court.
The Jazz score 141 points in their Game 2 win over the Grizzlies, setting a new franchise record for most points in a playoff game.<br><br>Their previous record was 131 points in 1985 against the Nuggets. <a href=”https://t.co/gw3a7NIZ7G”>pic.twitter.com/gw3a7NIZ7G</a>
On Monday, Mitchell proclaimed he was playing in Game 2 no matter what, and the team agreed. He tried to make up for lost time, scoring 12 points with three 3s in his first eight minutes.
As he did in the first game, Brooks gave the Grizzlies a big lift once he got some relief from foul trouble. He and Morant got in the lane time and again as Memphis made 17 of 20 field goals to start the third quarter, trimming the lead to 93-91 on Melton’s 3-pointer.
The Jazz were aggressive in the first half, driving the ball to the basket or dishing back for 3s. Utah shot 10 for 19 from long range and made 18 of 25 free throws to take a 74-54 halftime lead.
Jordan Clarkson was presented with the Sixth Man of the Year award before the game and finished with 16 points.
Valanciunas got his second foul 3:13 into the game, and Brooks got his second a couple minutes later on a four-point play by Mitchell.
Early on, the Jazz extended their defense beyond the 3-point line and often had an extra defender trap or run at Morant before he could get going. But Morant found a way to score 20 points in the first half, but didn’t get much help from the rest of the Grizzlies until their third-quarter outburst.
Rose, Randle rally Knicks past Hawks to tie series
Down 13 points, the New York Knicks needed a change in the second half beyond starting Derrick Rose.
They needed the Julius Randle they saw in the regular season.
Randle was 0 for 6 with just two points at halftime. But with Rose moving into the starting lineup to open the third quarter, Randle made a 3-pointer to start the period and scored 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting as the Knicks surged into the lead.
The winner of the NBA’s Most Improved Player award finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds despite another poor shooting night. He was 5 for 16 after going 6 for 23 in the opener.
But he came through with it counted along with Reggie Bullock, who made four 3-pointers in the second half and also had 15 points as the Knicks guaranteed there will be at least one more home game in this surprising season.
Trae Young scored 30 points for Atlanta after having 32 and hitting the tiebreaking shot with 0.9 seconds left in Game 1. Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter added 18 apiece.
Jules puts it up… PUTS IT IN! <a href=”https://t.co/0keFh65UKk”>pic.twitter.com/0keFh65UKk</a>
Game 3 is Friday night in Atlanta, where the Hawks will be allowed to welcome a full capacity crowd for the first time this season.
Rose made the basket the gave the Knicks the lead for good at 93-91 with 4:45 to play and kick off a decisive 9-0 run. He played 39 minutes as Thibodeau stuck with one of his most trusted players to keep the series — and maybe season — from slipping away.
Young stamped himself as a villain figure for Knicks figures by holding his finger to his lip after his winning shot Sunday to tell them to quiet down.
He got hot late in the second quarter from inside and outside — way outside. He pulled up from 30 feet for a 3-pointer, made a reverse layup, a jumper and another 3-pointer in a 12-1 run that made it 57-42 in the final minute of the half.
Atlanta led by 12 midway through the third before Randle helped power a 16-2 spurt by picking up his aggression after playing passively. His jumper after consecutive 3-pointers by Bullock capped the surge and made it 74-72 with 1:45 left in the period.
New York led 88-78 with 8:34 to play but Young checked back in to lead a 13-3 burst that tied it at 91 when he threw a lob to Clint Capela.
Thibodeau kept his normal starting lineup, even though he had pulled struggling point guard Elfrid Payton after about four minutes in each half in Game 1 and never reinserted him either time.
Payton lasted just over five minutes this time before the Knicks called time after Atlanta’s 11-0 run and inserted Rose. Meanwhile, Randle had two airballs in his first three shot attempts.
76ers take down Wizards as Westbrook limps off
Ben Simmons put a spin move on Russell Westbrook that sent him sprawling to the floor several minutes before an ankle injury sent the NBA’s triple-double king to the locker room and nearly into the stands to confront a misbehaving fan.
Game 3 is Saturday night at Washington.
Westbrook went down after colliding with Furkan Korkmaz early in the fourth quarter. He limped off the floor and then was restrained by security after a fan threw popcorn at him as he was headed under the tunnel.
As for the incident with the fan, Westbrook said: “I wouldn’t come up to me on the street and throw popcorn on my head, because you know what happens. … In these arenas, you gotta start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.”
Valerie Camillo, president of business operations for the Wells Fargo Center rebuked the fan in a statement.
“This was classless, unacceptable behaviour, and we’re not going to tolerate it at Wells Fargo Center,” Camillo said.
Russell Westbrook appeared to have popcorn poured on his head by a fan on his way to the locker room with an apparent injury.<br><br>The fan was ejected from the game. <a href=”https://t.co/WgtvKMFYHH”>pic.twitter.com/WgtvKMFYHH</a>
LeBron James spoke out about it on Twitter: “By the way WE AS THE PLAYERS wanna see who threw that popcorn on Russ while he was leaving the game tonight with a injury!! There’s cameras all over arenas so there’s no excuse!”
Simmons and Joel Embiid each scored 22 points and Tobias Harris added 19 for the top-seeded Sixers. Simmons added nine rebounds and eight assists after becoming just the sixth player in NBA history to have at least 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a playoff game in a 125-118 win in Game 1
The three-time All-Star still heard plenty of criticism in Philadelphia following that stellar performance because he only scored six points and missed all six of his free throws.
Bradley Beal had 33 points and Westbrook finished with 10 points and 11 assists for sub-.500 Washington.
Embiid scored on a driving layup, got knocked to the floor and sank a free throw to complete a three-point play in the final minute of the second quarter. Dwight Howard led the crowd’s chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” for Embiid, who raised both hands and soaked in the adoration.
The Sixers withstood 24 first-half points from Beal in the first half and led 71-57 at halftime. They maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
Embiid was happy to see Simmons take advantage when Washington chose to double-team him.