Donovan Mitchell stormed off the court and kicked a water cooler toward a security guard.
And while the Utah Jazz All-Star apologized to that man, Mitchell was less kind to the three-man crew who refereed and, ultimately, ejected him from his team’s 131-123 overtime loss in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
“I’m never ever one to blame a ref, blame an official, but this is getting out of hand,” Mitchell said. “There have been games like this we’ve won. Games we’ve lost. We’re nice, we don’t complain, we don’t get frustrated, we fight through things. But the fact that we continuously get screwed in a way by this … It’s getting [expletive] ridiculous.”
Tensions were clearly high after a difficult overtime loss.
The Jazz led by 3 with 21.5 seconds to play in regulation. But Sixers All-Star Joel Embiid stepped back and hit a 3-pointer over Bogdanovic to tie the game with 5.3 seconds to play.
The Jazz chose not to call a timeout, as Mike Conley took the inbounds pass to the free throw line, but missed the go-ahead floater as time expired.
“I got the ball and was able to get to the elbow. With another revolution it might go in,” Conley said. “It’s a very comfortable shot and one I’ve made a thousand times. It’s just unfortunate it didn’t go in.”
In overtime, Philly’s Tobias Harris scored 11 points to help the Sixers split the two-game season series with the Jazz. Utah dropped to 27-9 on the year, losing back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 6.
Don: 33p | 8r | 6a | 5 3pm | 1s
Mike: 18p | 3 3pm | 6r | 1a | 1s
Bojan: 18p | 5r | 4 3pm
Joe: 18p | 6r | 4 3pm | 1a | 1s
Rudy: 12p | 9r | 4a | 2s | 1b
JC: 10p | 5r | 2 3pm | 2a 1s
Royce: 10r | 7p | 5a | 1s
Fav: 7r | 4p | 2a | 1s
Georges: 5p #podiumpostgame | @podiumhq pic.twitter.com/dhdZhFqAk8
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) March 4, 2021
“The challenge is when you don’t get the whistles you want — and those things always happen — is to play through it and continue to compete,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “I thought we did that. Obviously, I heard Donovan’s comments. Obviously, there’s a level of frustration that he has, that we have, and that’s something that presumably you can’t control.
“But give Philly credit. Embiid hit a big shot. We were on him trying not to give up a 3. And then we weren’t able to close the other way and overtime got away from us. We just have to take a break, regroup and continue to compete.”
Embiid scored a game-high 40 points, shooting 13 free throws along the way. Mitchell scored 33 points and went 4-for-6 from the free throw line. On the night, Philly attempted 35 free throws to Utah’s 19.
Mitchell picked up two technical fouls in overtime as he voiced his frustrations to the officials.
Conley, the 14-year NBA veteran who has never been whistled for a technical, was frustrated, too.
“My view was not just the end of the game–I thought the game was getting out of a hand a little bit earlier on,” Conley said. “We should have executed better to win the game. Joel hit a big shot. … But it’s tough. We fought so hard, did all the things we could control. And tonight there were some things that were out of our control.”
Mitchell was somewhat vague as he voiced his frustrations.
“This is something that eats at me, man,” he said. “Y’all know what it is. We know what it is.”
Conley spelled out some of those concerns more plainly.
“I’ve felt that way (that his team is being officiated differently) my whole career,” he said. “That’s small market. We don’t have the big time names, the ones that are all over the TV and stuff like that. It can get a little wild. But we have stars. Don’s a star. Rudy’s a star. Bojan. Guys deserve to get those calls and it’s just not happening for us right now.”
Conley said he hoped the league would take note.
“Maybe we’ll draw some attention and we’ll win the war later,” he said. “It was just one battle tonight.”
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) March 4, 2021
Rudy Gobert is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Philly’s Ben Simmons thinks he can steal a third DPOY trophy away from the Utah Jazz center.
“I feel like I’m the best defender in the NBA,” the 76ers point-forward said last month.
On Wednesday night, Sixers coach Doc Rivers said he believes Gobert and Simmons are one and two in the race of this year’s Defensive Player of the Year honors.
“I’m biased but I would put Ben at No. 1,” he said. “He doesn’t just play fives. He plays fives, fours, threes, twos and ones. He plays every position on the floor and when he’s played those positions he’s come up with stops. There are very few players in the NBA who can do what Ben does defensively.”
For what it’s worth, Gobert is No. 1 in the NBA in defensive win shares, according to Basketball-Reference, while Simmons is No. 12. Gobert’s defensive rating is also nearly 6 points better than Simmons’.
• Former NBA center Etan Thomas joins the Roundball Roundup podcast to talk Mike Conley and player activism.
In your podcast feed now.
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) March 2, 2021
Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Quin Snyder are headed to Atlanta to represent the Utah Jazz at the 2021 NBA All-Star Game. The game will air Sunday, March 7 on TNT.