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Why current road trip has Donovan Mitchell’s full attention

Jazz opened the trip with a hard-fought win over Cleveland, but there is still much work to be done

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Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) has his game face on after hitting a 3-pointer at the end of the game in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. The Jazz won 137-130.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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Saturday morning the Jazz headed out on their longest road trip of the season to this point.

“We still feel that Friday loss and I think that’s a good thing,” Donovan Mitchell said after Jazz practice last Thursday. “It’s been able to sit with us for three days and I think it’s going to help us build on this game tomorrow and the road trip coming up.”

The four-game trip started in Cleveland, where the Jazz eked out a one-point victory Sunday. Next up is a game against Minnesota on Wednesday then a game at Philadelphia the next night. The Jazz finish things off in Washington on Saturday.

“This road trip coming up is tough,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to stay locked in and do what we do. We’ve had a good stretch in these past two games, but we’ve got to continue to pick it up.”

Maybe in past seasons, games against the Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Wizards wouldn’t have been seen as tough tests for the Jazz, but these aren’t the same teams of years past.

The Timberwolves beat the Jazz three times last season and have some of the most athletic players in the league that are hoping to climb up from eighth in the Western Conference.

The Sixers went through a rough stretch without most of their starting lineup due to COVID-19 or injury but with Joel Embiid back on the court they are trying to get every win they can to reverse the skid they went through in the early days of the season.

Finally, the Wizards sit third at in the East and have been one of the most formidable teams in the league this season.

While the Jazz are pleased with their recent results, they know that if they don’t perform well on the road, it’s back to the drawing board.

New with the Jazz

Stat of the week

Through games played on Thursday, including the Jazz’s three days between games, Rudy Gobert leads the NBA in total dunks with 70 so far in the 2021-22 season. Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, who Gobert will face on Sunday, is second in total dunks with 66 on the season.

This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable: A Utah Jazz Podcast,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster). Back from the holiday break, the crew discussed the Jazz’s two worst losses of the season, the barf game in Sacramento and how the Jazz measure up against the West’s power house teams.

New episodes come out every week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

From the archives

This week in Jazz history

On Dec. 5, 2000, the Utah Jazz’s Karl Malone converted a finger roll for two points, moving past Wilt Chamberlain and into second place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Malone scored 31 points in Utah’s 98-84 win over Toronto, giving him 31,443 career points. Malone finished his career with 36,928, which still stands at second on the all-time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Extra points

  • Udoka Azubuike suffered an ankle subluxation. What does that mean? (Deseret News)
  • Why Donovan Mitchell might mean more to Utah off the court (The Athletic)
  • No, the Jazz don’t have a Joe Ingles vs. Royce O’Neale conundrum (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Who watches more game film than Donovan Mitchell? (Salt Lake Tribune)

Around the league

Memphis Grizzlies set NBA record for margin of victory with a 152-79 win over Thunder.

Setback delays Zion Williamson’s return to play with New Orleans Pelicans.

Which NBA players can and can’t be traded?

Up next

Dec. 8 | 6 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Minnesota Timberwolves | AT&T SportsNet

Dec. 9 | 5 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Philadelphia 76ers | NBATV

Dec. 11 | 5 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Washington Wizards | AT&T SportsNet