After what happened on Wednesday night, a 28-point loss to Boston, Donovan Mitchell, and Rudy Gobert met with the media postgame and delivered some powerful words. 

While no excuses were made for the defeat, there was still an air of optimism around Utah’s two leaders as they both said they believe in this team and that a performance like that will not happen again. 

“I believe in this group. … If I didn’t believe it, I wouldn’t be here,” Gobert said Wednesday night. “Adversity has made us better in the past and I think it’ll make us better again. It’s just one loss, it’s not the end of the world.”

Fast forward to Friday, and it was apparent that what Mitchell and Gobert said postgame was coming to fruition. Unfortunately, despite playing extremely hard, Utah found itself on the wrong end of the scoreboard. 

In a back and forth affair that featured seven ties and 17 lead changes, the Jazz fought until the end before coming up short 107-101 to Charlotte on Friday night. With the loss, the Jazz remain in the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference playoffs, tied with Dallas as the two teams meet in a massive showdown on Sunday night.

Mitchell led Utah with a game-high 26 points, his seventh straight game with 25 points or more. He finished 10-of-21 from the field and 4-for-11 from beyond the arc, adding seven assists and three rebounds. 

While it wasn’t the best shooting night for the all-star guard, he found a way to have the Jazz in contention late by taking on a much more prominent role offensively. Sharing point guard duties with Mike Conley, Mitchell could get into the paint with ease before electing to rise up for the shot or kick the ball out to an open shooter. 

Utah began the game on fire, jumping out to a 14-6 lead after knocking down 4-of-7 from beyond the arc early. But Charlotte, behind the play of Kelly Oubre and Miles Bridges, battled back as the Jazz led 24-23 after one. 

Both offenses found their rhythm in the second quarter as the pace quickened, which played right into the hands of Charlotte as they like to take transition three-pointers. With the Hornets leading by six late in the first half, Juancho Hernangomez knocked down a three-pointer to give Utah some momentum, but Bridges responded with a three of his own right away.

But the Jazz went into the half trailing 54-51 after Mitchell drilled a shot from near midcourt.

The third quarter continued to be a back-and-forth affair, but the Hornets came out hot and extended their lead to nine. The Jazz rallied as Hernangomez spearheaded an 8-1 run with five points to give Utah life again. 

Utah went on a 7-2 run to end the quarter as Jordan Clarkson nailed a shot at the buzzer to give the Jazz a 78-77 lead entering the fourth quarter. 

The teams went back and forth in the final 12 minutes before the drama unfolded with 1:30 to play.

Royce O’Neale nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 99 but then got lost on the ensuing possession as Terry Rozier buried a three-pointer as the shot clock expired. After the teams traded buckets, Mitchell had a chance to make it a one-point game with 25 seconds remaining, but he missed a point-blank layup, allowing the Hornets to seal the victory at the free throw line. 

“There was a lot of pressure on that layup, and I missed it,” Mitchell said postgame. “I’m not laughing because it’s a joke, I am laughing that that’s the level of frustration.”

However, Mitchell wasn’t the only one to take accountability for the loss — Gobert did the same thing when speaking postgame. 

“A lot of them are on me,” Gobert said of Charlotte’s 16 offensive rebounds. “Some of them were funky bounces, but a lot of them are on me. That was the game. … That gave them life.”

Gobert finished with his 47th double-double of the season when he posted 11 points and 19 rebounds, while Clarkson added 19 points off the bench. Hernangomez had his best game in a Jazz uniform when he finished with 14 points (4-of-6 from deep), while Conley added 11 points, six assists, and three steals.

Despite the loss, Mitchell made Utah history with a bucket in the first half — surpassing former teammate Gordon Hayward for No. 8 all-time in Utah scoring history.

Utah has Saturday off before containing their season-long road trip with arguably their most crucial game of the season on Sunday night in Dallas. In a showdown with massive postseason implications, the Jazz will face Luka Doncic and the Mavericks for the final time in the regular season. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. MST.


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