SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell dribbled out the clock in the backcourt, dodging Dallas’ last-ditch efforts to foul before letting out a triumphant yell and throwing the ball high in the air.
Mitchell celebrated Chrismas Day with 33 points and the Utah Jazz beat the COVID-19-depleted Mavericks 120-116 on Saturday night.
“I grew up watching these games and wanting to be in this position. To play on Christmas is special … it’s an honor and a blessing,” said Mitchell, who overcame a back strain sustained in the first quarter.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 25 points and Mike Conley had 22 to lift the Jazz (23-9) to their 13th win in their last 15 games.
It wasn’t the Christmas night matchup the NBA hoped for with Luka Doncic among the Mavs stuck in the league’s health and safety protocols. Still, it was competitive to the end despite several new signees getting significant minutes for Dallas.
“Even with guys out, it’s what you ask for. It’s extra emotion, extra drive, just one step below the playoffs. Everybody’s excited and locked in,” Mitchell said.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Reggie Bullock, Trey Burke, JaQuori McLaughlin and Josh Green were also sidelined in the health and safety protocols for the Mavericks. In addition, Willie Cauley-Stein was out for personal reasons and Dorian Finney-Smith missed the game with a non-COVID illness.