The occasional grace note

This Donovan Mitchell kid is really something. The rookie Utah guard, averaging about 16 points a game, nearly doubled himself up tonight, which required him to play a lot of minutes. And in those 36 minutes, he knocked out 31 points and pulled off five steals. But Andre Roberson managed to stop him when he had to stop him, which explains much about how the Thunder, down 17 points near the end of the third quarter, managed to beat the Jazz 100-94 and tie up the season series.

Roberson, +14 for the night, was a force to be reckoned with: despite only four points and four rebounds, he blocked three shots and kept Mitchell from running up 40, maybe 50. It didn’t hurt that the rest of the OKC starters scored like crazy towards the end: Paul George with 21, Steven Adams 20, Carmelo Anthony, and yes, another triple-double for that Westbrook guy, 34-13-14. It’s almost possible to ignore the feeble seven points produced by the Thunder reserves. Perhaps a better sign: OKC went 4-18 from the three-point circle, genuinely terrible, but in that fourth quarter, when the Thunder outscored the Jazz 32-14, they took only one long ball. (Fifty-eight points in the paint. Nyah.)

The Jazz were hurt, obviously, by Rudy Gobert’s continued convalescence: he’s still a power near and around the rim, but he’s not quite bestriding the post like a Colossus. Yet. And the Thunder have to play the Jazz twice more this season. Twice more this month, in fact. If that Mitchell kid can sustain what he did tonight, it’s going to be a very interesting pair of games. In the meantime, it’s off to Mexico City, against the Brooklyn Nets. I don’t think the Thunder will even notice that there isn’t a Taco Bell for several hundred miles.

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