After a heartbreaking overtime loss in Game 1, the Utah Jazz responded in a major way to even the series with a dominant 124-105 win over the Denver Nuggets.
Donovan Mitchell led the way with 30 points and eight assists while Jordan Clarkson scored 26 points off the bench. For the Nuggets, both Michael Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic finished with a team-high 28 points.
With the series now tied 1-1, here are some observations from Game 2.
1. Donovan Mitchell is really really special
OK, we've known that already, but he found a way to remind us of that once again in Game 2.
After scoring just six points (on 3-for-6 shooting) in the first half, Mitchell made the second half his. His takeover began in the third quarter as he exploded for 21 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field, including 5-for-5 from deep.
2⃣1⃣ in the 3rd for Donovan Mitchell. 😳#NBAPlayoffs on @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/pbeXSFDRAR- NBA (@NBA) August 19, 2020
He would go on to finish with 30 points (on 10-for-14 shooting) and eight assists.
Many wondered how the first-time All-Star would respond after his record performance in Game 1 wasn't enough but the 23-year-old clearly wasn't demoralized at all. That's an encouraging prospect for this team moving forward.
2. The 3 ball
The Jazz were red-hot from beyond the arc.
Led by Mitchell's 6-for-7 shooting from deep, Utah knocked down 20 of its 44 3-point attempts. Clarkson and Joe Ingles each knocked down four apiece while Royce O'Neale hit three of his own.
Denver, on the other hand, shot 13-for-27 from beyond the arc.
The Nuggets shot well but the disparity in points from the perimeter clearly was a major difference.
3. A tough act to follow
In Game 1, Jamal Murray came up very clutch, hitting tough bucket after tough bucket to finish with 36 points (on 13-for-20 shooting) and nine assists.
Game 2 was a bit more forgettable.
Murray had a relatively quiet game Wednesday, finishing with just 14 points (on 6-for-13 shooting) and four assists. Denver needs more production from Murray in Game 3 in order to get back in control of the series.
4. Utah shares the sugar
In Game 1, the Jazz assisted on just 18 of their 46 made field goals. Game 2 saw the Jazz dish out 32 assists on 45 made field goals.
For perspective, Utah surpassed its Game 1 assist total just one minute into the second half.
Night and day.
Mitchell (eight assists), O'Neale (eight assists) and Ingles (six assists) each assumed some playmaking responsibilities as Mike Conley remains in quarantine. The ball movement was a big key for the Jazz in their offensive flow.
They might not assist over 70% of their field goals in Game 3, but it's clear that ball movement is a key component to their success.
5. Jordan Clarkson time
While it was a quiet first half for Mitchell, Clarkson led all scorers with 16 points (on 6-for-12 shooting) in 15 minutes off the bench.
JC's got 13 pic.twitter.com/koGR1ZGInG- utahjazz (@utahjazz) August 19, 2020
He would go on to finish with 26 points (on 9-for-18 shooting), providing a much-needed spark off the bench.
When in need of a bucket, it's always Jordan Clarkson time. That's what he does.
6. MPJ bounces back
After scoring just eight points in 19 minutes in Game 1, Michael Porter Jr. admitted that playoff defence was a completely different animal from what he experienced in the regular season and seeding games.
He seemed to figure it out in Game 2.
The standout rookie would go on to finish with 28 points (on 10-for-17 shooting) and six rebounds in 33 minutes of action. If Denver can get MPJ, Murray and Jokic on the same page in Game 3, they'll have a great shot at regaining control of the series.
7. What's next
Yet another quick turnaround as these two teams are set to meet for Game 3 on Saturday, Aug. 22 at 1:30 a.m. IST.
The Jazz should get a big boost as Mike Conley is reportedly set to return to the lineup after a mandatory quarantine for leaving the NBA's campus.
It should be a good one.
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