Mitchell masterclass as Jazz march on, Curry shines

Published February 10, 2021, 4:02 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz drives to the basket against the Boston Celtics on February 09, 2021 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

Donovan Mitchell poured in 36 points as the Utah Jazz extended their Western Conference lead on Tuesday with a 122-108 win over the Boston Celtics.

Mitchell delivered another virtuoso performance which included six three-pointers and nine assists as the Jazz rolled to a win that equaled their best ever start to a season.

Joe Ingles added 24 points while French international Rudy Gobert muscled his way to 18 points in Salt Lake City.

The Jazz now lead the West with a 20-5 record, one game clear of the Los Angeles Lakers, having won 16 of their last 17 games.

“I think the biggest thing is our competitiveness, continuing the fight,” said Mitchell, revealing that Utah were determined to atone for their disappointing first-round loss to Denver in last season’s playoffs.

“That was a tough loss for us, but this is how you’re supposed to respond if you want to be the team we want to be,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got plenty of games left this season, but we’re playing well and we’re grooving.”

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics’ scoring with 33 points, while Jayson Tatum had 23.

‘Best ever’ Curry

Elsewhere Tuesday, Steph Curry delivered a dazzling performance as the Golden State Warriors scored a 114-91 road victory at the San Antonio Spurs.

Curry finished with 32 points in the win, with six Warriors teammates ending up in double digits. Rudy Gay led the Spurs scorers with 17 points off the bench.

But it was Curry who hogged the limelight after another gem of a display in what is rapidly becoming an MVP-calibre season for the Warriors talisman.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes Curry is playing better than ever.

“That’s part of Steph’s brilliance — he just constantly amazes you to the point where you almost take it for granted,” Kerr said. 

“This is the best I’ve ever seen him from a confidence and a strength standpoint. And that’s saying something for a two-time MVP. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look better.”

Nets slump

In Detroit, the Brooklyn Nets crashed to a third straight loss against the lowly Pistons, losing 122-111.

The Nets — with Kevin Durant absent due to Covid-19 protocols — once again put in another abject defensive display as the Pistons, bottom of the Eastern Conference, romped to a 122-111 home win.

It marked the seventh straight game that the Nets have shipped 120 points or more, an unwanted new record for a franchise with designs on becoming an NBA powerhouse following the signing of James Harden last month.

The Pistons dominated from the outset, racing into a 38-26 lead in the first quarter and never relinquishing their grip on the contest thereafter. The Pistons led by 20 at one stage in the second quarter.

The loss left Nets coach Steve Nash openly questioning his players’ mentality.

“We can’t start the game down 10 points, down 20 points in the second (period), expecting it to come easy,” Nash said.

“This is professional sports. The other team is talented and capable and we’re shorthanded. We’ve got to come out extremely sharp, extremely competitive and with real fire. It takes us being down by 20 points to find that fire.”

Nash accused his players of lacking fight for most of the game, saying they had only shown it in flashes.

“If you come to the gym, you’ve got to want to fight with your teammates and make it extremely hard for the other team, make them miserable, and we didn’t do that,” he said. “We’ve got a lot to clean up.”

Kyrie Irving led the Nets’ scoring with 27 points while Harden added 24 points with 12 assists. Jeff Green and Landry Shamet were the only other Nets players to make double figures, with 10 points apiece.

The Pistons meanwhile were sparked by 32 points from Jerami Grant, who went 11-of-19 from the field and made four three-pointers.

Point guard Delon Wright had 22 points with nine assists, while Saddiq Bey (15 points), Mason Plumlee (14) and Josh Jackson also posted double-digit tallies.

The Nets fell to 14-12 with the loss and remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, while the Pistons improved to 6-18.