SALT LAKE CITY — By the end of the first half, Donovan Mitchell was bent over with his hands on his shorts, trying to get a few moments of rest.
If you blinked, you may have missed Utah’s three-game road trip. Back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday, followed by a Sunday matinee in Indiana.
“You prepare for fatigue as much as anything,” head coach Quin Snyder said.
Fatigue couldn’t stop the Jazz and certainly couldn’t stop Mitchell.
The Jazz guard had 27 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds to push the Jazz to a 103-95 over Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Utah has won 15 of its last 16 games, and Sunday’s might just be the most impressive.
It was Utah’s third game in less than 72 hours and all were in different cities. With travel and numerous COVID-19 tests, there wasn’t a lot of time to get some extra rest. Throw in the fact Mike Conely was missing on Sunday due to a right hamstring injury and the Jazz were staring straight at a scheduled loss.
No one told Mitchell.
After a 12-2 run by Indiana in the fourth quarter tied things up at 83, Mitchell dug deep and brought the Jazz along with him. In the final 6:14 of the game, Mitchell scored 6 points, handed three assists and grabbed three boards to come up just one rebound short of the Jazz’s first regular season triple-double since 2008.
In the closing minutes, he hit Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles for threes on back-to-back possessions that seemed to give Utah just enough energy to finish off the game.
Mitchell played 38 minutes on Sunday to help the Jazz gut out a win.
While MItchell led the way offensively, Rudy Gobert put together arguably his best defensive performance of the season, holding All-Star center Domantas Sabonis to 7-of-19 shooting. When Sabonis fouled out late in the game, he angrily threw his towel down when he got to the bench. Gobert (along with Derrick Favors) had made it a frustrating afternoon.
This was a game about Utah’s top two players playing up to their All-Star status, leading a team that clearly didn’t have the legs (the Jazz shot 31% from three and 41% from the field) to a victory.
What’s the best way to prepare for fatigue? Have the stars that can overcome it.
This story will be updated.