Mitchell’s last-second FT lifts Jazz over Suns
PHOENIX — Donovan Mitchell would have loved to end the game with some sort of highlight-reel dunk or step-back 3-pointer that would be replayed over and over again on television for the next 24 hours.
But it wasn’t that kind of night for the Utah Jazz.
A physical drive, a drawn foul and a clutch free throw would have to do.
Mitchell scored 25 points, including the game-winning foul shot with 0.4 seconds left, and the Jazz rallied to beat the Phoenix Suns 96-95 on Monday.
“It’s me just attacking, coming downhill,” Mitchell said. “(Jevon) Carter was a great defender all game, but I just made a move and tried to get to the free throw line. I didn’t do that much in the second half, but I did on the final play.”
Mitchell took the ball in the backcourt in the final seconds and then drove through the lane past Carter, getting fouled by Devin Booker as he tried to make a layup. Mitchell sank the first free throw before missing the second, and Frank Kaminsky III’s last-second heave was well short.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 29 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 4 for 8 from 3-point range. Rudy Gobert had 15 points and 18 rebounds and made 11 of 12 free throws.
Utah won despite shooting just 38 percent from the field and committing 23 turnovers. The Jazz made up for it with good defense, especially in the final minutes.
“We didn’t put our heads down after those mistakes. Got back and really worked to get stops,” coach Quin Snyder said. “When you do that, you have a chance. We had some really big plays down the stretch.”
The teams were tied at 70 heading into the fourth quarter before the Suns pushed ahead with five straight points. The game was tied again when Bogdanovic scored on a fast-break layup and was fouled with 1:45 left. He made the free throw to give the Jazz a 95-92 lead.
Phoenix (2-2) was led by Booker’s 21 points. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 18 and Carter had 15, including a 3-pointer that tied it at 95 with less than a minute left.
Aron Baynes scored 12 for the Suns, including a career-high three 3-pointers. He made just 25 shots from beyond the arc in his first seven seasons, including 21 last year.
Ricky Rubio faced Utah (3-1) for the first time since signing a free-agent deal with the Suns in the offseason. He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
“I like how in the tough moments we get together and play with passion,” Rubio said. “The only difference not making the playoffs or making it is winning these kinds of games. I know we are young, we are learning, but we have to close out.”
Both teams struggled to make shots in the first half as the Jazz built a 46-39 lead. Bogdanovic led Utah with 14 points.
MORE THAN 0.4 SECONDS?
Phoenix coach Monty Williams thought Mitchell got fouled with 1.8 seconds left instead of 0.4, which made it nearly impossible to get a last-second shot toward the rim. The call was not reviewed.
Williams said that was frustrating, but it wasn’t his team’s biggest problem.
“That is a tough one to swallow but that wasn’t the reason we lost,” he said. “Our ball movement was stagnant tonight.”
Jazz: Danté Exum was out with a right knee injury. … Utah outrebounded Phoenix 35-22 in the first half. … Mitchell was called for a flagrant 1 foul in the third quarter after trying to fight around a screen by Baynes.
Suns: Rubio returned after missing one game with a bruised left knee. … Ty Jerome is out with a sprained right ankle. … Phoenix had a moment of silence before the game for Al Bianchi, who was an assistant coach and scout for the Suns for 23 seasons, including during the team’s run to the NBA Finals in 1976. The team said he died at age 87. … Booker got a flagrant 1 foul in the third quarter for hitting Gobert in the groin while fighting around a screen.
Jazz: Host the Clippers on Wednesday.
Suns: Travel to Golden State on Wednesday.
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