On Sunday night in Memphis, following the Jazz’s loss to the Grizzlies, I was in the Jazz locker room talking to Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson about their next game on the schedule and what it would be like to have Donovan Mitchell return to Vivint Arena in a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey.

Both players made note of how much Mitchell had meant to the Jazz and how they hoped he would get a warm welcome from the fans; Clarkson capped off the conversation with a quip that turned out to be somewhat prophetic. Clarkson tilted his head and flashed his diamond embellished smile.

“He’s probably gonna try to drop like 80 on us,” he said with a laugh. “We’ll see about that. I might have to stop him.”

Mitchell ended up scoring 46 points, matching the most he’d ever scored in the regular season with the Jazz, and he was celebrated with huge ovations. But thanks to Clarkson, the Jazz were the team that walked away with a win.

Nobody knew what to expect, but Donovan Mitchell’s return to Utah was overwhelmingly positive

In the span of 40 seconds Clarkson scored nine points, seven of which came in a single possession, taking the Jazz from a tenuous position in the waning moments to an advantageous position with the clock on their side.

With just under two minutes to play, the Jazz were trailing by five and were struggling to find offense that would put a stop to Mitchell.

Clarkson took a closely-contested 3-pointer with 1:36 on the clock and missed. It felt like that was the Jazz’s last real shot at trying to come back and that all hope was lost. But the ball slipped out of bounds off of Lamar Stevens’ hand and the Jazz were gifted with another shot.

Clarkson put up another 3-pointer and this time, not only did the ball go through the net, but Caris LeVert was issued a Flagrant 1 foul, which would give Clarkson two chances to make a free throw and return possession to the Jazz.

Clarkson made good at the free throw line for the four-point play. It worked once, so why not do it again? The Jazz inbounded the ball, Clarkson put up another 3-pointer and drew contact from LeVert a second time, sending Clarkson to the free throw line for three shots. He made them all.

“He had a seven-point play at one point, which is exactly what I told him to do,” Jazz coach Will Hardy joked after the game. “He made some big plays … you don’t want to count on those things to go in your favor to win a game but you know, we’ve also had some tough breaks during our tough stretch that haven’t gone our way and so sometimes it all levels out.”

“It sucks to lose, but when you see a guy like JC, who has grown so much this year as a playmaker. I’m happy for him.” — Donovan Mitchell on Jordan Clarkson’s heroics Tuesday night

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The Jazz started that possession trailing by five and came out on the other side of it with a 109-107 lead.

Then on the Jazz’s next trip down the court, Clarkson drove the lane and hit a floater that extended the Jazz’s lead with just 40 seconds left to play.

Clarkson finished with 32 points, 15 scored in the fourth quarter, nine of which were scored in just 40 seconds.

“It sucks to lose, but when you see a guy like JC, who has grown so much this year as a playmaker,” Mitchell said. “I’m happy for him.”

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