The Utah Jazz wasted no time taking advantage of an absent Luka Dončić, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 99-93 in Game 1 of their first-round series.
Despite a slow start, Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 32 points and chipped in six rebounds and six assists in the win.
“I came out a little too passive,” Mitchell said after the game.
Bojan Bogdanović had 20 points in the first half, while Mitchell scored just two as the Jazz held onto a 45-43 lead.
“Bojan had it going, so I got to go out there and make the right plays. The shots weren’t falling, so it’s all good, so come out in the second half, be ready to go, and be in attack mode,” said Mitchell.
The three-time All-Star came out firing after intermission, and the Jazz survived a Dallas run to escape with the road win.
“We didn’t really shoot well at the end of the night but we cleaned it up on the boards,” said Mitchell of Utah’s 53-34 rebound advantage.
“Just rebound. Everybody has to get back, get in there, and send five guys to the board opposed to their two or three,” said Spencer Dinwiddie. “We know Royce [O’Neale] is going to crash in the corners, Bojan may crash, and obviously, [Rudy] Gobert and [Hassan] Whiteside are going to be in there. We just have to send all five and make sure we get the defensive rebound.”
Despite the loss, the Mavs were optimistic.
“They were great this afternoon. Offensively, they found guys [and] got shots, but our defense gave us the chance to win this game,” said Mavs coach Jason Kidd. “The looks that we got coming down the stretch, we would normally make those. That’s just the game of basketball; sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. But I thought overall, we slowed the game down and gave ourselves a chance to win without Luka [Dončić], and that really just shows the sign of a good team.”
The Jazz and Mavs play Game 2 Monday with no word on Dončić’s availability.