Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell steals show with highlight dunk in win vs. Lakers

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Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell’s dunk in the third quarter electrified the crowd at Vivant Area. (AP)
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell’s dunk in the third quarter electrified the crowd at Vivant Area. (AP)

There were three high-profile NBA rookies on the floor Saturday night as the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers faced off at Vivant Arena.

But Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell was the king of them all, toppling the Lakers’ prized rookie duo: Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.

Mitchell, who is 6-foot-3, quite literally rose above Ball — the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft — in the third quarter of Utah’s 96-81 win, slamming down a one-handed put-back dunk after a missed three by Alec Burks.

Seconds later, Ball turned the ball over to Utah’s Joe Johnson, who passed it to Mitchell for a three with 43 seconds left in the third quarter to swing all the momentum back Utah’s way.

“That was kind of a teaching point, how one play at this level can change the entire game,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton told the Los Angeles Times. “We had all the momentum at that point.”

Mitchell, a Louisville product who was chosen No. 13 overall in the 2017 NBA draft, scored a career-high 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting. He led all scorers and became the first Jazz rookie since Darrell Griffith (1980) to score 22 points or more in one of the first six games of the season, per SBNation.

The 21-year-old Jazz guard also grabbed three rebounds, two assists and had three steals. Prior to Saturday’s performance, Mitchell was averaging seven points per game in the Jazz’s first five games of the season.

Mitchell told reporters after the game the dunk was “kind of surreal,” per the Deseret News. He also admitted going for the slam was a bit of a gamble.

“I’m big on getting back on defense, so I kind of took my chance on that one,” he said. “Either I’ll get taken up for going for the offensive board or I make it. I’m glad it worked out in my favor.”

Ball scored nine points, all of which were from beyond the arc. He attempted six 3-pointers and shot 3 of 10 from the field overall. He added four assists, two rebounds, two steals and had five turnovers.

Ball took the blame for Lakers’ loss, telling reporters after the game the loss was on him after “two dumb plays” by him.

“That was my fault,” Ball told ESPN of the Mitchell put-back dunk. “If you think about it, that kind of changed the whole course of the game. … I should have boxed him out. Then I threw the turnover.”

The Lakers fell to 2-4 as the Jazz improved to 3-3.

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