Final 39 seconds of Jazz’s 100-99 Game 4 win over Mavericks will go down in Utah playoff lore
How Jazz all-stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert combined to make the game-winning play to even the series at 2-2 heading back to Dallas for Game 5 Monday.
The final 39 seconds of the Utah Jazz’s 100-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of their heated NBA first-round playoff series will go down in Jazz lore, even if Utah doesn’t pull out the series that looked to be slipping away just seconds earlier.
“Man, I was so happy,” said Jazz star Donovan Mitchell. “It felt like we were down four, and rightfully so, everybody was kinda like nervous.
“The crowd got quiet. I was like, ‘C’mon man, we still got time.’ They did their job.”
And so did Mitchell and the Jazz, with a little assist from Dallas’ Dwight Powell, who missed two free throws with 19 seconds left — after having made a pair with 1:43 left — while the sellout crowd of 18,306 did its best to try to blow the roof off Vivint Arena.
“The atmosphere was amazing. The crowd was different. They gave us energy.” — Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic
Longtime observers of Jazz home games say it got as loud, if not louder, than anything they had ever witnessed before.
Here’s how it unfolded:
After Luka Doncic hit a step back 3-pointer over Rudy Gobert with 39 seconds left to give the Mavs a 99-95 lead and the uber-talented Slovenian 30 points in his first playoff series appearance, the Jazz seemed in certain danger of falling behind 3-1 in the series.
Not good, since Game 5 is Monday in Big D.
Mitchell, who had been struggling mightily since early in the second quarter, was supposed to fire off a 3-pointer, but decided to drive to the basket.
“I would have probably taken that 3, you know, but I made the decision to kinda make it a free-throw game at that point, and just trying to draw the foul,” he said of his drive.
“I didn’t make the first (shot), it was good defense. I got the rebound, and at the end of the day, just doing what I do. I know what I am capable of.”
Mitchell completed the 3-point play with 31 seconds left to get the Jazz within one.
That is when Powell, who was 5 of 6 from the stripe to that point, missed both after having been fouled by Mitchell.
“The atmosphere was amazing,” said Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic. “The crowd was different. They gave us energy.”
And handed Powell a nightmare.
Gobert rebounded Powell’s second miss and got the ball to Mitchell, who was picked up by Dallas’ best defender, Dorian Finney-Smith.
When Powell came up top to defend a screening Gobert, the Jazz center rolled to the hoop as Finney-Smith got twisted around trying to switch on Gobert.
Mitchell’s lob was perfect, Gobert slammed it home and the Jazz had a 100-99 lead.
“We went out there and executed. We have been saying for months that is the way we want to be, and we went out there and did it,” Mitchell said.
“We did it for one game. We gotta go out there and do it again. … I think that is the biggest thing. The biggest thing is we went out there and executed and actually did it. We got the win tonight and we got to do it again.”
But the Jazz still had to get a final stop on a team that put 39 points on the board in the third quarter alone.
Jalen Brunson, star of games 2 and 3 but with “only” 23 points Saturday, brought the ball up after a Dallas timeout with 11 seconds left and fed Doncic above the 3-point line.
Utah double-teamed Doncic with Bogdanovic and Danuel House Jr., forcing the superstar NBA MVP candidate to give up the ball for the second straight possession.
With Mitchell glued to Brunson, Doncic found Spencer Dinwiddie for a last-second 3-pointer, but Gobert had rotated over to get a hand up and Dinwiddie’s attempt at a game-winner was just off.
“Make somebody else shoot,” was Utah’s defensive strategy, Mitchell said.
“Make somebody else shoot.” — Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell on the strategy against Dallas star Luka Doncic in the last 11 seconds
Still, the Jazz star said he was “a little nervous” when Dinwiddie briefly flashed open, “because he has hit those shots a lot.”
Gobert’s take: “The plan was to get it off Luka’s hands and then see what he does. … I was ready to rotate and contest the shot, thankfully.”
And so ended one of the more memorable playoff finishes in Jazz history, knotting the series at 2-2 heading back to Dallas and assuring there will be a Game 6 next Thursday at Vivint.
Snyder said nothing has come easy for the Jazz this season, and Game 4 followed that script. Even when the Jazz took a 54-42 lead at halftime, he knew the Mavericks would not go away quietly.
“Dallas, they are one of the best teams in the league,” Snyder said. “They have shown that, particularly since the trade deadline. They have been so good.”
But so was Mitchell in the final few minutes, after he went scoreless from 2:40 remaining in the second quarter until just 7:24 remained in the game.
His driving basket with 1:27 left gave the Jazz a 95-94 lead. However, Doncic hit an 8-foot floater seconds later to regain the advantage for the visitors.
“We gave everything we had from the get-go,” said Gobert, who found constant heckling from the Dallas bench every time he stepped to the free-throw line in the second half and was just 9 of 18 on his freebies.
“It started with Bojan pressuring the ball, and then it became contagious. … It is a big win for us.”
With an unforgettable ending.