Final score: Jazz 123, Kings 117
- Numbers-wise, Donovan Mitchell picked up right where he left off last season, scoring a game-high 24 points and leading Utah to a victory. While he appeared to be pressing early on and didn’t get his first bucket until the second quarter, but the fourth quarter he was in full-on star mode. He had a spinning, double-clutch layup in traffic that was not just a beautiful shot but a crucial one as Utah pulled away late.
- The difference between then and now for Mitchell is that last year, a lot of people didn’t see this kind of instant impact coming. This year, everyone knows he’s one of the league’s best.
- Joe Ingles must be on a mission to make at least one announcer in each NBA city describe him using the words like “YMCA” and “rec league.” He was back at it with the funky-looking floaters, the unorthodox jumper, and old-man tactics. Even his lob passes looked clumsy but still found their mark.
- Ingles had a great fantasy stat line: 22 points, 6 assists, 4 steals, 4 threes. If you’re into that.
- There seemed to be a lot of alley-oops in this game, on both sides. Could be a byproduct of teams still figuring things out defensively and allowing guys without the ball to slip behind them going to the rim. Rudy Gobert benefited from a few of those lobs, as he put up 19 points (mostly on dunks, it seemed) to go with 15 boards and 3 blocks.
- In his breakout performance in Utah’s first-round playoff upset of the Thunder, Ricky Rubio was going right at then-reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and putting up triple-double-ish numbers of his own. On this night he was almost invisible, finishing with one point (0-for-4 FG), two rebounds and four assists. Rubio also got sliced up by De’Aaron Fox a few times.
- Polarizing former Duke star Grayson Allen got a DNP-CD. Allen is talented, but the Jazz already have two very good shooting guards ahead of him in Mitchell and backup Alec Burks.
- Marvin Bagley’s first NBA basket came when he posted up Jae Crowder and out-muscled him for a hook shot. Crowder is shorter than Bagley, but it was an impressive show of strength from the rookie.
- Later on, Bagley scored again when he shook Crowder alone the baseline with a fake spin move. Bagley finished with 6 points and 5 rebounds off the benc in just 12 minutes. He didn’t play a lot, but he showed flashes of a potential star.
- De’Aaron Fox is still really fast, but he appears to be playing a bit more under control and with more confidence. He had 21 points, 7 assists and 3 steals.
- A lot has been made about Fox working on his jumper and his range in the offseason. He went 0-for-2 beyond the arc on Wednesday, but his form does look better and he seems more confident.
- Trying to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, the Kings went to Buddy Hield often, and he delivered. He had 19 points and looked comfortable being the go-to guy.
- In his long-awaited NBA debut, Harry Giles had 2 points and 4 fouls in 10 minutes. But he didn’t get hurt, so that’s a plus.