Phoenix • Donovan Mitchell remembers the day vividly.
He stood outside of the Greenwich Boys and Girls Club in 2010. Inside the building, LeBron James was giving his now-infamous “Decision” on ESPN. Mitchell wanted to be there. At 13 years old, James was his favorite player at the time.
James — as we all now know — announced he was taking his talents to the Miami Heat. A ticked off New York Knicks fan threw a Snapple bottle. It almost hit Mitchell in the head.
“It was cool,” Mitchell said. “I was outside, so it was cool being there. I wanted him to go to Miami at that point, I wanted him to get a ring. I remember there were a lot of upset people there. There were a lot of Knicks fans, Greenwich being so close to New York and all. But it was definitely cool.”
As Mitchell continues his rookie season with the Utah Jazz, his story of being present for the decision was chronicled — among other things — in a story by CBSsports.com on Friday morning.
It makes sense, as Mitchell is now making an honest run at the NBA’s rookie-of-the-year award, something thought to be impossible not long ago. On Thursday, Mitchell was named the rookie of the month in the Western Conference for the second consecutive month.
In the eyes of many, he’s elevated himself into a two-way ROY race with Philadelphia rookie forward Ben Simmons. Mitchell led all rookies with 22.2 points per game during January. He also averaged 3.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game in January.
He had two games of at least 34 points. He scored at least 20 points in eight of Utah’s 13 January games.
“Anytime you receive recognition for your play and your achievement, as a coach and an organization, you’re proud of your players that get that,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “I think it’s deserving. He’s just playing. Oftentimes, when you do that and just compete, good things happen.”
A hot streak
Jazz starting forward Joe Ingles is playing his best basketball of the season. He’s scored in double figures in four of his last five games. In a win over the Los Angeles Clippers, he scored 21 points, and he dropped 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting in Tuesday’s huge win over the Golden State Warriors.
Ingles is averaging 14.6 points on 56 percent shooting in his last five games. That includes 56 percent shooting from 3-point range.
“He really set the tone for us against Golden State,” Snyder said. “He’s been playing very well.”
Rodney Hood missed his sixth consecutive game on Friday night with a lower leg contusion. The Jazz still list Hood as day-to-day with the injury. A source tells The Tribune that Hood is “close” to returning to the lineup.