Breakfast Special: Praise the Basketball Gods, Utah

A heresy is brewing in Mormon country, as apostates embrace the deities of the hardwood.

No, not Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and LeBron James. Not even John Stockton and Karl Malone.

I’m talking the Basketball Gods, those divine purveyors of plot device for many a beleaguered sportswriter in need of a miracle to come up with some way to explain just what on this mortal plane happened in Houston Wednesday night.

Because holy hell, the Utah Jazz just shot 60 percent from the free throw line, lost the turnover battle 16-7, watched Donovan Mitchell shoot like he was blindfolded (6-of-21, 17 points, and yes, he could make six shots blindfolded), survived a Triple 20 from Houston’s Big Three (32 points from James Harden, 23 from Chris Paul, and 21 from Clint Capela…)

And to describe all that, you’d be convinced, especially if you saw Game 1, that the Jazz lost by 30.

They won 116-108.

What on this mortal plane just happened?

Well, for one thing, Mitchell is showing that he could become the best two-way player in the league if he keeps playing defense like he did. Harden struggled with his shot (9-of-22 FG, 2-of-10 3PT, making up the efficiency at the line by shooting 12-of-12 because he’s James Harden and the refs don’t call offensive fouls for his blatant leaning into contact), Mitchell actually managed a plus-13 (best on the team!) in his 38 minutes despite the lousy shooting, and CP3 wasn’t that much better from the field (8-of-19) than was Harden.

Oh, and Eric Gordon absolutely disappeared, shooting just 5-of-16 on his way to 15 points.

Houston shot 22-of-27 from the free throw line against Utah’s 15-of-25. They took away 16 turnovers and gave away just seven.

But the Jazz out-Rocketed the Rockets, hitting 15-of-32 from three (despite Mitchell’s 2-of-8!), 51.8 percent from the field (despite Mitchell’s 6-of-21)…

That means the rest of the Jazz combined to shoot 59.7 percent from the field and 54.2 percent beyond the arc.

They’re not going to shoot that well for the rest of the series. But they’re also not going to shoot that badly from the line or be that sloppy with the ball or that disinclined toward ballhawking on the defensive end.

Which means one thing:

We got ourselves a series.

Highlights, first of a statistical kind…

…then something a bit more visual…

Joe Ingles was red-hot from beyond the arc, hitting 7 three-pointers on his way to 27 points:

Seriously, this is how you go 1-for-2 on a possession in style:

I believe they call what Jae Crowder brings to the table “valuable playoff experience” in these situations:

And serious props to Houston for bringing the old-school nostalgia game:

Tonight, a pair of Game 2s in the East. Tomorrow, a pair of Game 2 highlight reels on the Breakfast Special. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!