Weekly Run newsletter: Even Donovan Mitchell was surprised at his moment that sparked the Jazz’s rally

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) celebrates with Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) their 109-102 win after hosting the Orlando Magic in their NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. Dec. 17, 2019.

The Weekly Run is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly newsletter covering the Utah Jazz. Subscribe here.

After the Jazz went down seven against Orlando in the final minutes on Tuesday night, the Vivint Smart Home Arena crowd expressed some mixture of nervousness, disappointment, and dismay.

Seconds later, after Donovan Mitchell drove the lane, cocked the ball, elevated over Magic center Nikola Vucevic, and threw down a wicked tomahawk jam, the mood was instantaneously elevated.

Mitchell himself said he didn’t quite know where that explosive a play came from, though he explained that with Vooch lurking, he definitely intended to go in strong.

“I understand with a guy like that you can’t just lay it up. You have to try to go up and try and dunk it,” he said. “I’m trying to get to a point like guys like ‘Bron [James] and stuff, like that where they just move out of the way. I’m hoping to get to that point, but I’m so small that people still want to jump, so I still am trying to get up there and dunk every chance I get.”

That said, he was still a little dumbfounded afterward about the ferocity of the play, considering he didn’t feel particularly bouncy along the way.

“Honestly, I don’t know how in God’s name I dunked the ball,” Mitchell reiterated. “… I did a dunk in warmups, I just didn’t have any legs but like I said I pushed through.”

In case you missed it

Most important stuff first — Tribune alum Tony Jones made a guest appearance on the Weekly Run podcast with Andy Larsen and myself, and we discussed Tony’s workout with the Jazz, the team’s ups and downs throughout the 2010s, and Mike Conley’s return.

The other big news of the past few days was the lawsuit filed against the Jazz and Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook. After Westbrook accused a Jazz fan of hurling racist taunts his way, the team investigated and banned the fan for life. Now, he and his girlfriend are suing for $100M.

Beyond that, Andy wrote about how getting a few practice days in a row should bolster the team’s performance, I talked to Mike Conley to preview his return after missing five games with a hamstring injury, I put together a piece on how Joe Ingles and Georges Niang are the guys who bring some levity to the team, and Andy put together an awesome package looking back at all the bests and worsts of the Jazz from the past decade.

Other people’s stuff

• The aforementioned Tony Jones of The Athletic wrote about the Jazz’s just-completed sweep of their three-game homestand, and how it didn’t do a whole lot to quell concerns about the team.

• Jasen Lee of the Deseret News, meanwhile, discussed the optimism the Jazz were feeling about how things stand after their third consecutive victory.

• Ryan Miller of KSL covered Rudy Gobert’s turn as Santa last week, as the center hosted 25 kids affected by homelessness and gifted them all some presents.

• Tony Jones also had another interesting piece in The Athletic, as he took a look at the team’s seemingly thin bench, and their options for bolstering it.

Up next

With the homestand now over, the Jazz are heading out on a weeklong pre-Christmas trip that used to be a staple of the schedule in the Frank Layden and Jerry Sloan days. Their Southern swing kicks off in Atlanta on Thursday night, then moves to Charlotte on Saturday, and wraps up in Miami on Monday.