ORLANDO – Donovan Mitchell put on a performance never seen before in Utah Jazz playoff history.
Mitchell set a franchise record with 57 points, the third most points scored in NBA playoff history, but it wasn’t enough as the Utah Jazz dropped the first game of their best-of-7 playoff series to the Denver Nuggets, 135-125.
Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 36 points, while Nikola Jokic added 29, as Denver outscored the Jazz in overtime, 20-10.
“The biggest thing was just trying to make the right plays,” Mitchell said. “Just try to find ways to get into the paint and make the right read. Whether, it’s finishing or drawing a foul, whatever it is, I’m just trying to find ways to make it easier for myself.”
Only Jordan (63 points in 1986) and Elgin Baylor (61 points in 1962) have scored more points in a playoff game in NBA history.
Mitchell scored just two points in the first quarter, but scored 28 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“His line speaks for itself,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said about Mitchell. “He had seven assists as well. He was terrific and I thought he competed on the defensive end as well. He came up with big shots time and time again. It was an elite performance on his part.”
Joe Ingles scored 19 points, while Jordan Clarkson added 18 off the bench for the Jazz. Utah was without starting point guard Mike Conley, who left the NBA bubble on Sunday for the birth of his son.
Rudy Gobert had 17 points and 7 rebounds, while JuWan Morgan, making his first career NBA start, had 3 points and 7 rebounds.
Denver shot 53.7 percent from 3-point range (22 for 41), and made 51.6 percent from the field overall.
“Guys are making step-back 3’s with a hand in their face, that’s tough,” Snyder said. “You tip your hat, you want to be on the other end of it, but frankly it’s no one play.”
“We did a good job defensively, protecting the basket,” Gobert said. “They hit a lot of tough shots late in the fourth and in overtime.”
After trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half, the Jazz rallied back to take an 83-78 lead going into the fourth quarter.
There were 11 lead changes in the fourth quarter, with Mitchell scoring 22 points in that quarter alone.
But Mitchell made a costly error, getting called for an 8-second violation in bringing the ball over half court with 1:46 remaining and the Jazz leading by four. Denver then cut the lead to one on a 3-pointer by Murray.
“That’s my fault as a leader and as a point guard, that’s terrible on my part,” Mitchell said. “I was really just taking my time walking it up, and I’ve got to be more aware.”
The Jazz committed four straight turnovers in one stretch of overtime, and Denver took advantage pulling away for the victory. Murray scored 10 of his 36 points in overtime.
“I know there is no home court [advantage], but they did their job,” Mitchell said. “Obviously it’s tough to lose the first game, but now we kind of see what their approach is. It’s one game. We’re not overreacting, and we’ve got to go back out there and be ready for game two.”
Jerami Grant scored 19 points, and Monte Morris added 14 off the bench for the Nuggets.
“Obviously we would have liked to have won the game,” Snyder said. “But they did some really good things down the stretch, particularly Jamal Murray. He made some big shots as well.”
The Jazz are now 0-4 against Denver this season.
Game 2 is set for Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. mountain time.