SALT LAKE CITY – Donovan Mitchell had a pretty good idea of Quinn Snyder’s game plan for LeBron in the All-Star Game.
“I think he took what we did during the season, like shooting threes, and just told them to shoot farther, harder shots,” Mitchell said.
Well, when you have Steph Curry and Damian Lillard on your team, it’s best to take advantage of that. Snyder led his team to a 170-150 victory over Mitchell and Tim Durant on Sunday in Atlanta. And, yes, it was one of those more distant and tighter 3s that finished the game with Lillard, who got right out of the half-court line and tried a three-pointer to take LeBron to the 170 goal.
But Snyder is not about to admit to anything that happened on Sunday.
“I (trained) as much as they wanted from me, which was a couple in several situations,”
It was just part of the journey. He said it was a thrill to just be in the game; to look at the court and not only see the All-Stars, but also the former Hall of Fame. This only added to the thrill that three of his players were also there.
Jazz was well represented in Atlanta. Mitchell, who played for Durant, had 15 points, four rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes; Rudy Robert had 10 points and seven rebounds in 13 minutes for LeBron; and Mike Conley, who made his long-awaited star debut, had 3 points and two assists in 12 minutes for Team Durant.
The jazz players didn’t play a huge role in the final result, but they had a lot of fun moments, including a debut that Conley would never see.
In Conley’s first all-star game, he did something he hadn’t done in years: He faced Chris Paul for the opening board to start the second quarter. Unfortunately for Conley, he lost the jumping match, but that was really the only downside to the whirlwind day.
“I wasn’t prepared for the tip,” Conley said with a laugh. “I was told I was going out there and getting ready to look after someone and look back (and the bench said),” Mike jump. “I wish I had won the tip, but beyond that it was a great experience – a lot of fun. “
📹 | 𝐓𝐀𝐏𝐄 𝐓𝐀𝐏𝐄! #NBAAllStar x # TakeNotepic.twitter.com/LBvkn2M5FF
– utahjazz (@utahjazz) March 8, 2021
In the first half, Mitchell ran inside to line up right next to Robert. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year could have escaped him, but he thought he would allow his regular teammate to have a free one.
“He had to block my arrangement – I thought he would, I didn’t have legs to try to dip him,” Mitchell said.
Robert said, “I let him do the first lineup. Then I told him I wouldn’t leave him anymore. He got scared in the second half. I thought he was going to try something, but he didn’t make it – a smart decision.”
Mitchell did not return the favor, allowing his teammate to have a free pass. When Robert received the ball right next to the hoop, Bear Mitchell hugged it to avoid what would surely be a dip.
“All the fun garbage talk – I had to foul him, make sure he didn’t get in there,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell hit 3 through Robert’s long arms in the second half – not as exciting as the edge challenge, but easier (and safer).
There was a bit of drama involving Conley. He was the last All-Star to board on Sunday, waiting until the end of the third quarter to win his first points. Mitchell said he and the team were trying to find ways to bring him a bucket, and so there was some relief when Conley knocked down a 3-point shot in the final minutes of the third quarter.
And that shot was all Conley needed.
“After I took the bucket, I was like, ‘I’m fine, man, you can take me out.’ Let these young boys run around and do a show. “
Overall, it was a successful game and a jazz weekend, which was the most represented team in the game. Utah was one of only two teams to have three stars (the Brooklyn Nets was the other) and was the only team to play all three. And they brought their coach with them. All this made a special day for the organization.
“It was fun to be there with these guys,” Snyder said.