Game on! Mitchell dunks his own rebound as Jazz level series with #1 seed Rockets

The Western Conference semi is tied at a game apiece.

Mitchell: finished with 17 points.
Mitchell: finished with 17 points.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

THE UTAH JAZZ started strong then held their nerve to beat the top-seeded Houston Rockets 116-108 on Wednesday and level their Western Conference semi-final series at one game apiece.

Australian forward Joe Ingles scored a playoff career-high 27 points and star rookie Donovan Mitchell added 17 as Utah used a big fourth quarter to thwart a second-half comeback bid by superstar James Harden and the Rockets in Houston.

Ingles, a 30-year-old who played internationally as a pro for eight years before landing in the NBA in 2014, drained seven of nine three-point attempts.

That included two late in the fourth, when his three from the left corner with 4:25 remaining took the Jazz lead to 108-96.

Rookie star Mitchell’s 17 points included an one-handed dunk off the rebound of his own missed shot — an emphatic jam that keyed Utah’s 16-2 fourth-quarter scoring run.

“To be honest I was just trying to shoot a floater and grab a rebound, but I was up there so I figured why come down with it,” Mitchell said.

Source: ESPN/YouTube

Moments before, Mitchell had forced Harden into a 24-second violation, just one solid defensive move from a Jazz team that held the vaunted Rockets offense to 24 percent shooting in the final period.

“The biggest thing is we defended,” Mitchell said. “We’ll take this win, but we need three more.”

- ‘Series is on’ -

NBA scoring champion Harden notched 32 points with 11 assists and seven rebounds for the Rockets, who erased a 19-point first-half deficit to take a five-point lead in the third quarter.

“We came out a little too lackadaisical,” said Harden. “We were kind of going through the motions.”

The Jazz, seeded fourth in the West, will try to grab the series lead when they host game three on Friday in Salt Lake City.

“The series is on,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni. “Get it going now.”

© AFP 2018

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