Mitchell’s passing pivotal in Wolves win

Mitchell dealt career-best 11 assists.

During the regular season, he’s never gone double digit in assists. They’ve never needed him to. It’s his scoring, that’s the priority. But in Friday night’s 106-102 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Donovan Mitchell dished a career-high 11 assists.

The Jazz needed every Rudy Gobert contest (4 blocks, including the game sealing rejection) and every Mitchell dime. Donovan’s 11th caught Kyle Korver for a midrange jumper to keep Utah up four with 2:33 to go. His 10th found Korver for a three to put Utah up 11 with 7:21 left.

The game changed course again with Minnesota closing to within 2. Still, the Jazz held on. Every Mitchell pass that more crucial.

“It’s the same thing pretty much since the start of this year 2019. I feel like I’ve been making a bunch of better reads,” Mitchell said postgame. “For me it’s all just continuing to feel the game, understanding where guys are, making plays, and just having confidence in my pass. I think that goes a long way because if you’re not sure that’s when mistakes happen.”

Coming into Friday, Mitchell is posting 30.8 points with 5.1 assists since Ricky Rubio went down against the Bucks on January 7 (9 games). He dished 9 dimes against the Lakers on January 11. The offense hasn’t stalled with the Louisville product taking the primary ball-handling position.

His finest work came on a baseball pass to Georges Niang.

The Spaniard stayed on his minutes restriction, racking 22:56 on the floor. Memorably, Mitchell took over for Rubio in the Houston series last year. He dished 11 assists (his only ever 10+ effort) in a Game 2 victory.

Mitchell split attacking defenses and slithered down the middle, adeptly keeping the defender on his back. He kept his body horizontal as he drove and kicked. One found Korver in the corner; another caught Derrick Favors behind the three point line; even Rudy Gobert benefited on a drop pass in the post.

Whatever the Jazz do going forward, Mitchell’s flexibility might give Quin Snyder the option to hand the offense over to his young star.

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