Well, that was fun.

After missing the previous eight games while dealing with severe symptoms from a concussion sustained two and a half weeks ago, Donovan Mitchell ensured his return to the court was triumphant.

In one of his best and most complete performances of the season, Mitchell led Utah to a dominating 125-102 victory over Brooklyn on Friday night. The Jazz led by as many as 34 points in the third quarter, opening up a double-digit lead in the second quarter and never looking back.

“To be honest, I was making the joke before the game like I didn’t give a damn if the ball went in or out. … I was just happy just to be out there running around.” Mitchell said postgame.

It had been a rough past couple of weeks for Mitchell.

During a game against the Lakers on Jan. 17, Mitchell was inadvertently elbowed in the head by Russell Westbrook in the first half. While he later admitted to a slight headache, he was able to finish the game and met with reporters afterward. Not thinking much of the hit or feeling off somehow, Mitchell didn’t assume much and figured the headache would disappear.

But late that night, especially after flying from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, Mitchell’s headache became unbearable and nausea set in — that’s when he knew something was off. He was later diagnosed with a concussion, thus sending him down a dark path.

“I got to a point where I was kind of a little nervous. … To be honest, I was like, ‘what happened’ because I knew this was bad,” Mitchell said. “I really wasn’t doing anything on my phone, not playing Xbox, not leaving the house. … It was bad. The headache the nausea were pretty messed up.”

After two weeks of symptoms, Mitchell and the Jazz sought advice from multiple specialists, all of whom assured them that his recovery timeline was right on par and there wasn’t much cause for concern.

He played like it on Friday.

In just 22 minutes of action — not because of a minutes restriction — Mitchell finished with a team-high 27 points, adding six assists, three rebounds, and a +21 rating. He was hyper-efficient on the night, shooting 8-of-10 from the floor, 6-for-7 from three-point territory, and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line.

“He was unbelievable. … It looked like a video game,” Udoka Azubuike said of Mitchell. “There was one time I had to catch myself in the moment because I was just watching him. … Every shot was going in. Don is a stud.”

It’s clear the Jazz missed his ability to penetrate and get to the rim, as it constantly opened up the floor for Utah’s shooters to take advantage.

“He looked really good,” head coach Alex Jensen said of Mitchell. “He was running, defending, passing. … He looked really good out there.”

Two players who benefitted the most from Mitchell’s return were Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley.

Bogdanovic was back to his usual self, thriving in his role as a secondary scorer. He finished with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 8-of-14 from the floor and 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. But the most impressive part of his performance was four assists, showing off a part of his game that isn’t seen as much.

Conley also enjoyed having his running mate back.

With Mitchell commanding so much of Brooklyn’s attention, Conley found open lanes everywhere and was able to get to the rim at will. He finished with 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists.

“He takes pressure off the other guys, especially Mike,” Jensen said of Mitchell’s presence. “There’s so much focus on him that he frees up other guys offensively. He’s Donovan Mitchell. … He makes everything a lot easier for everybody.”

Utah came out reenergized with the return of Mitchell, jumping out to a 10-0 lead — Mitchell had five points and assisted on the other two buckets. The Jazz led by as many as 13 before Brooklyn battled to make it a nine-point game heading into the second.

Opening up the second quarter with a 23-10 run, Utah put this game away early as everyone got into the mix. Eight different players scored at least three points in the quarter.

The Jazz led 68-47 at the half.

The third and fourth quarters were more of the same, with the Jazz thriving on both ends of the court. Mitchell dropped 14 points in the third, going a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.

In the starting lineup, Azubuike recorded the first double-double of his career with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and a +23 rating. Eric Paschall added 16 points while Hassan Whiteside chipped in 15 points and eight rebounds. Trent Forrest continued the best play of his career with eight points and seven assists.

Utah now has the weekend off before returning to action on Monday when they host the New York Knicks. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MST.


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