The Utah Jazz's NBA season came to a close in a thrilling Game 7, going down 80-78 to the Denver Nuggets.
While the disappointment of a first-round exit for the second-straight season is still fresh for star guard Donovan Mitchell, the 23-year-old says that he and the Jazz are just getting started.
TAKEAWAYS: Nuggets hang on to snatch Game 7 victory
"This isn't the last of it. This is me scratching the surface," Mitchell said post-game.
"I know what I can do, how hard I've worked, how hard this team has worked. This won't be the end of it. That's what's fueling me. This ain't the end. This is just the beginning. I'm ready to go hoop again right now. I think we all are. This is just the beginning."
Mitchell finished the game with 22 points, nine rebounds, and nine turnovers, including one with 10 seconds remaining. Denver missed a layup down the other end before Mike Conley Jr. had a chance to win it with a 3-point attempt at the buzzer - but it wasn't to be, as the ball rolled off the rim.
"To be honest, I [was] in shock. That was it," Mitchell said of his reaction, falling to the ground after the miss.
"You work so hard to get to a point that we got to, and we were this close. We were down, we came back, and fought and clawed, and to be that close ... This will be on my mind for a long time."
Despite surrendering a 3-1 series lead, Mitchell added that there were plenty of positives to take from their playoff run, considering their rocky road to the post-season.
"We went from being an unsalvageable team about three months ago to this. And I don't think anybody outside of us expected that."
Mitchell enjoyed a historic post-season run for the Jazz, averaging 36.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists on a scorching 52.9% shooting from the field and 51.6% from the 3-point line.
In the process, he beat Steph Curry's previous record for most 3-pointers made in a single playoff series (32), while Jamal Murray matched Curry's record on the other side of the shootout between the two young stars.
Most threes in a series in NBA playoff history:- StatMuse (@statmuse) September 2, 2020
33 - Donovan Mitchell (this series)
32 - Jamal Murray (this series)
32 - Steph Curry (2016 Finals)
32 - Steph Curry (2016 WCF)
30 - Klay Thompson (2016 WCF) pic.twitter.com/tKJyeEyMZj
The pair also joined Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson as the only players to score at least 50 points twice in a single playoff series.
While the records and one-on-one battles with Murray grabbed the headlines, Mitchell was quick to put the emphasis back on the major task at hand as the players continue to fight for social justice, using their platform in the bubble to help bring change.
"The biggest thing is continuing to push and use your voice," he said.
"At the end of the day, we came down here for a reason. Obviously to win a championship, but also to continue the message. We stopped playing and continued to play because we wanted to continue to preach our message.
"I'm very happy with the way things went as far as being able to come back on the floor and us and the NBA and owners agreeing on certain things. I hope as these playoffs and everyone watches we continue to push for what is really needed in this world, man."
"This is a game. People lost their family members to police brutality and racism and s---. I can only imagine. The way that I'm feeling right now is nothing compared to that."- ESPN (@espn) September 2, 2020
-Donovan Mitchell after losing Game 7 pic.twitter.com/7FknsLtStX
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