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Donovan Mitchell’s fourth-quarter surge against Brooklyn Nets gives Utah Jazz 10th straight win

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) drives to the basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in New York. The Jazz defeated the Nets 118-107.
Kathy Willens, AP

BROOKLYN — You wouldn’t know it if you had only watched the fourth quarter of the 118-107 Utah Jazz win over the Brooklyn Nets, but Donovan Mitchell was not himself when he stepped onto the court at Barclays Center on Tuesday night.

He was still a little under the weather, but he was feeling better than he had on Sunday when he sat out the Jazz win over the Wizards. Even so, there was something a little bit off.

Mitchell’s shot wasn’t falling, he didn’t have his usual bounce — coming up short on a dunk in the first half — he was making things harder than he needed to for himself and to top it off, the New York native had some butterflies before the game.

“I’m not going to lie, for some reason I was kind of nervous to start the game,” he said. “Just being back home gets to the nerves a little.”

Those nerves settled in the fourth quarter and Mitchell scored 14 of his 25 points in the final six minutes of the game, kicking off his flourish with a deep 3-pointer with 6:03 left on the game clock.

The Nets had started to hit back after being down by as many as 20 points, pulling to within single digits on the back of Kyrie Irving’s 32-point performance, but Mitchell and the rest of the Jazz were too much for the Nets to handle.

“What you saw tonight backs up their stellar play recently,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “They’ve been the No. 1 offense ... and we could never find a way to stop them. Just that simple.”

The Jazz took their win streak into double digits on Tuesday night in Brooklyn, beating the Nets for their 10th consecutive win, the longest such streak since the Jazz had an 11-game victory run that started on Jan. 24, 2018.

In order to get the win, the Jazz had to find production elsewhere through the first three quarters as Mitchell was struggling to find his rhythm. Someone was going to have to pick up the slack. Enter Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert.

Ingles dominated from deep, taking what the defense was giving him and going 6-of-8 from 3-point range. And, when the shot wasn’t there, his reliable pick-and-roll partner, Gobert, was right there next to him. The two combined for 49 points against the Nets on a night when Gobert’s defensive prowess was on full display.

“We were getting contributions from a lot of guys,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said after the game. “I thought Rudy was terrific, just a dominant performance by him on both ends of the floor. Joe obviously playing with Rudy and driving and making plays, and Emmanuel (Mudiay) and Jordan (Clarkson) when they came in the game gave us some big buckets.”

After the Jazz’s veteran Aussie and the Stifle Tower kept things under control through the first 42 minutes, it was Mitchell who came in and dazzled to close out the game.

As the Nets threw their final punches, most of which came from Irving who had 12 points in the fourth quarter, Mitchell seemed to answer every one.

“They were scoring and we had to answer,” Snyder said. “Donovan made a few really big moves to the rim and finished.”

The Jazz will close out their three-game road trip on Thursday in New Orleans, the same place they finished their last road trip with a 128-126 win. This time they’ll be looking to match their 2018 streak and pick up their 11th straight win.