Jazz stave off elimination with 107-91 win over Rockets
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell turned a rough start into a fantastic finish.
Mitchell dominated in the fourth quarter, rallying the Utah Jazz to a 107-91 victory over the Houston Rockets in Game 4 of their Western Conference series on Monday night.
Mitchell scored 19 of his 31 points in the final quarter to help the Jazz pull away for their first win in the series.
Utah staved off elimination and forced a Game 5 on Wednesday.
Mitchell’s late-game performance helped the second-year guard make up for struggles earlier. He turned the ball over twice in the first two minutes and shot just 36 percent from the field in the first three quarters before going 6 of 12 in the fourth.
Mitchell never lost confidence that he could turn it around.
“My teammates have had my back with every mistake, everything I’ve done well,” Mitchell said. “When you have that support system in the locker room every day, it makes it easier when you start the game with two straight turnovers.”
Jae Crowder scored 23 points. Ricky Rubio chipped in 18 points and 11 assists and Derrick Favors finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
James Harden scored 30 points to lead Houston. Chris Paul added 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Eric Gordon chipped in 16 points.
Utah’s offense got a major boost from Crowder and Rubio in the first quarter. The duo combined for 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the period to help the Jazz carve out a double-digit lead.
Then the Jazz opened the fourth quarter with a 15-1 run and outscored the Rockets 31-12 during the period.
“Of course, we wanted to end it tonight,” Harden said. “We had plenty of opportunities. They made some plays in that fourth quarter and we didn’t.”
Mitchell scored 13 points in three minutes to fuel the run after totaling just 12 points in the first three quarters. He capped off the surge with back-to-back 3-pointers, giving the Jazz a 91-80 lead with 9:02 remaining.
Mitchell provided his biggest highlight later in the quarter when he threw down an incredible alley-oop dunk after catching an errant pass from Royce O’Neale.
“We’ve had our backs against the wall plenty of times the past two years we’ve been together as a team,” Mitchell said. “This is familiar ground with us. Everybody responded the way we expect them to, but the biggest thing for us is take what we did today and multiply it.”
Crowder got things going by scoring five of Utah’s first six baskets. Rubio built on the momentum by fueling a 14-1 run with four baskets and a pair of free throws. It helped the Jazz build a 30-16 lead with 3:03 left in the quarter.
“Both of them attacked,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “Jae got downhill and attacked the rim. Ricky did the same thing.”
Houston had three straight turnovers to open the door for Utah to seize a double-digit lead. The Jazz scored 10 points off six Rockets turnovers in the quarter.
“We did things that are uncharacteristic of a team that wants to win,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said.
An 8-0 run, capped by Austin Rivers’ dunk off a steal by Paul, helped Houston trim the deficit to 30-24 before quarter’s end.
The Rockets continued to cut into the lead during the second quarter, but could not overtake Utah until the third. Houston opened the quarter on a 10-2 run, sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers from Gordon. Harden capped it off with three free throws to give the Rockets a 57-55 lead.
Houston led for much of the third quarter after going 8 of 12 from 3-point range in the quarter. The Rockets never built more than a five-point advantage, however, before Mitchell’s fourth quarter performance.
“I felt like they’d thrown their haymaker, trying to knock us out,” Crowder said. “We stood tall and took those punches and came out ready to play in the fourth quarter. ”
Clint Capela had a limited impact after battling a virus. Capela finished with just four points on 1-of-6 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and zero blocks.
“He didn’t have the force he usually does,” D’Antoni said.
It opened the door for the Jazz to dominate around the basket. Utah finished with a 52-35 edge on rebounds and outscored Houston 52-22 in the paint. The Jazz almost doubled up the Rockets on the offensive glass with a 16-9 advantage.
“It’s just draining when you play great defense and give up offensive rebounds,” Harden said.
Snyder inserted Favors in the lineup in place of Rudy Gobert for the final 4 ½ minutes of the fourth quarter. The move paid off.
Favors totaled six points and six rebounds in 10 minutes in the quarter. All but one rebound came during the final three minutes to prevent Houston from making a late rally, like in Game 3.
Gobert totaled four points, nine rebounds, and three blocks in 24 minutes. He admitted to being surprised by the decision, but took it in stride.
When he’s on the floor and I’m on the bench, of course I want to be out there, but if he has a great game and the team is winning — that’s the most important thing,” Gobert said. “That’s all that matters.”
Rockets: Harden and Gordon each shot 50 percent from 3-point range. ... Houston committed 16 turnovers leading to 21 points for the Jazz. ... The Rockets finished with just five bench points.
Jazz: After starting 4-of-6 from 3-point range, Utah missed 13 of its next 14 shots from long distance. ... Royce O’Neale grabbed a playoff career high 11 rebounds. O’Neale also finished with 11 points. The Jazz outscored Houston 52-22 in the paint and 17-3 in second chance points.
Game 5 is in Houston on Wednesday.