Mitchell Makes Much-Anticipated Return Against Brooklyn

He’s back!

After missing the past eight games while in concussion protocol, 2022 NBA all-star Donovan Mitchell makes his much-anticipated return to the starting lineup when Utah continues its six-game homestand against James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MST.

Numbers talk #ByTheNumbers | @Qualtrics pic.twitter.com/1dfillsQ5v

— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 3, 2022

Mitchell’s return couldn’t have come at a better time as the Jazz are gaining some momentum following one of their most vital wins of the season on Wednesday. Utah took down the Nuggets two nights ago, ending a run where they had lost 11 of their past 13 games, including five in a row. 

“To get a win like that, sometimes that’s all you need to get back on track,” Mike Conley said postgame Wednesday. “Just happy to see one, put a W up there in front of the home crowd and do it in the way that we did it with the guys that we had on hand and how passionate they played. … A lot of guys stepped up and it was a really fun environment.”

In what’s shaping up to be one of the best seasons of his career, Mitchell leads Utah in scoring with 25.5 points per game, adding 5.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.6 steals. He’s shooting 45% from the field and 33.9% from beyond the arc, showcasing his ability to score from every level. 

He’s one of three players in the league to average 25 points, 4.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game, along with Steph Curry and LeBron James.

“I’m still working on little things,” Mitchell said. “I want to be more efficient. The efficiency is important. It’s all about just trying to continue to get better and continuing to work hard.”

Donovan is one of three players to average 25 points, 4.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per gamehttps://t.co/lwmzuibIvw

— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 4, 2022

After playing Wednesday’s game missing five of their top nine rotation players, more reinforcements are on the way to help. Jordan Clarkson and Hassan Whiteside, who were out with separate ailments, are listed as questionable and should be back in the rotation.

Clarkson provides immediate scoring, capable of creating his own shot whenever he wants, while Whiteside will bring much-needed size and strength to hold down the paint and defend the rim. 

The return of Mitchell and Clarkson comes when Conley and Trent Forrest thrived against the Nuggets. 

Conley finished the night with 17 points, five assists, and a season-high-tying four steals, while Forrest had career-highs in points (18) and assists (8) — but most impressively, he had zero turnovers in a career-high 39 minutes. 

still thinking about that Trent dropped last night #DunksOfTheWeek | @WasatchFord pic.twitter.com/m8sS43IH0G

— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 3, 2022

However, the Jazz will still be shorthanded as 2022 NBA all-star Rudy Gobert, Danuel House Jr., and Joe Ingles will all miss the game. Gobert and House could return as early as Monday, while Ingles is done for the season after suffering a torn ACL last weekend. 

Brooklyn will also be shorthanded as Kevin Durant and Joe Harris are out with injuries. But they still have Harden and Irving, one of the best backcourt duos in the league who are capable of dominating a game.

& are coming to Vivint

Tickets start at only $40 https://t.co/tqsz9ia7dc pic.twitter.com/UtCKQExOYq

— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 4, 2022

STATS
Utah (31-21, 16-10 home / No. 4 Western Conference)
Offense
*113.4 Points Per Game (No. 2 in NBA)
*115.3 Offensive Rating (No. 1 in NBA)

Defense
*107.7 Points Per Game (No. 13 in NBA)
*109.6 Defensive Rating (No. 14 in NBA)

*Donovan Mitchell: 25.5 points / 5.2 assists / 4.0 rebounds / 1.6 steals
*Bojan Bogdanovic: 17.8 points / 4.2 rebounds / 38.2% 3P-shooting
*Mike Conley: 14.3 points / 5.3 assists / 3.0 rebounds / 43.1% 3P-shooting
*Jordan Clarkson: 15.5 points / 3.5 rebounds / 26.6 minutes

Brooklyn (29-22, 17-9 away / No. 6 Eastern Conference)
Offense
*111.6 Points Per Game (No. 8 in NBA)
*112.0 Offensive Rating (No. 7 in NBA)

Defense
*110.3 Points Per Game (No. 19 in NBA)
*110.4 Defensive Rating (No. 18 in NBA)

*Kyrie Irving: 23.6 points / 4.9 rebounds / 4.7 assists / 37.1% 3P-shooting
*James Harden: 22.5 points / 10.2 assists / 8.0 rebounds
*Patty Mills: 13.8 points / 42.7% 3P-shooting

MATCHUP TO WATCH
Battle of the Backcourts
— Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley taking on James Harden and Kyrie Irving, that’s a showdown worth the price of admission. Mitchell makes his much-anticipated return and Conley is in his best form of the season, while Harden and Irving are ready to end Brooklyn’s six-game losing streak. Safe to say that whichever duo wins this battle, their team should win the game.

INJURY REPORT
Utah
AVAILABLE — Donovan Mitchell (Concussion Protocol)
QUESTIONABLE — Jordan Clarkson (Right Knee Soreness) 
QUESTIONABLE — Hassan Whiteside (Low Back Strain)
OUT — Rudy Gobert (Left Calf Strain)
OUT — Danuel House (Health & Safety Protocols)
OUT — Joe Ingles (Left Knee Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear)

Brooklyn
OUT — LaMarcus Aldridge (Left Ankle Sprain)
OUT — David Duke Jr. (G League – Two-Way)
OUT — Kevin Durant (Left Knee MCL Sprain)
OUT — Joe Harris (Left Ankle Surgery)
OUT — Paul Millsap (Personal Reasons)

BROADCAST INFORMATION
Time: 7:00 p.m. MST
Location: Vivint Arena / Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 1280 The Zone 

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