SALT LAKE CITY – Donovan Mitchell drummed around a screen and saw nothing but the basket. Well, the basket and JaVale McGee. But that was not a big problem.
Mitchell drove the paint as if it were a runway, jumped from two feet and delivered a one-hand tomahawk jam all over McGee. It was perhaps only the second quarter, but Mitchell had already delivered the exclamation point for Utah's 113-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday at the Vivint Arena. And the exclamation mark also points to its own phenomenal performance.
Mitchell finished the 14-for-24 shooting with 33 points and 9 assists and 4 rebounds. It was Mitchell's fourth consecutive game of at least 26 points, and his second street topped 30 points.
It was Mitchel's first start this season and it helped hide that Utah had no healthy point guard available on Friday. After Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum and Raul Neto were injured within a week of each other, the jazz started a rematch of Mitchell and Royce O'Neale.
The first possession? An open O'Neale 3 hand set up by Mitchell. That was a good sign. O & Neale had 1
"I think this team has been big with the Next Man up since last year since I was here," Mitchell said on Friday at the shooting range. "This is just another circumstance or instance that we can continue to advance."
The Lakers did not replace their star so well. Los Angeles played James without LeBron, and he missed it deeply. Los Angeles struggled for every offensive rhythm, scoring just 36 percent and 18.5 percent of the 3-point line.
Former Utah Ute Kyle Kuzma, who dropped from a 41-point performance, was 4:18 in the field for 11 points. His first field goal he scored in the third quarter.
This 41-point performance may have helped Mitchell a bit. Kuzma and the young jazz star became friends through the design process and often make some friendly jabs on social media. Mitchell did not want to be trumped in his own arena. And he certainly was not.
Mitchell's night included a 4: 5 performance with 3 points – the fourth time in the last five games he shot over 50 percent from the depths. Rudy Gobert finished 12 points and 18 rebounds, Joe Ingles had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Derrick Favors ended with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Utah improved to 22-21 in the season – the first time over .500 since it was 7-6 after a win on 12 November.