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“It was a very good game for us” |  Utah shows resilience in win

Welcome to the conversation, Mike Conley.

After struggling with season-ending injuries for the past two years, Conley hasn’t been able to find his groove as he’s been on a minutes restriction this year.

Although he was a star last season, Conley was seen as an afterthought for much of the season in the eyes of the national media. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are all making headlines, and rightly so, but there’s yet another star Jazz player capable of taking control of a game.

That’s what Conley did on Wednesday night.

Despite a 14-point lead midway through the fourth quarter and a three-point shot from Houston to force overtime, Conley scored nine points in overtime as Utah cruised to a 132-127 victory over the Rockets.

“It was a really good game for us,” head coach Quin Snyder said after the game. “It was a game that we can take in and learn from. … There’s not a lot of magic in what happened, but there are things that we know are going to happen to us, and we have to be able to to manage them.”

With Mitchell and Gobert dominating for much of the game, Utah led by 14 with just over six minutes left. But that lead evaporated when the Rockets took advantage of Utah’s carelessness with the ball, going 22-8 to tie the game at 114 with 30 seconds left.

It was then that Conley took over.

He appeared to hit the game-winner when he knocked down a three-point corner with eight seconds left – a shot made possible after a phenomenal pass from Mitchell off a triple team. But Christian Wood knocked down a buzzer-beater for the Rockets, sending the game into overtime.

Extra time was back and forth until Conley returned to the clutch. He scored Utah’s last nine points, including a personal 7-0 run, with two minutes left in overtime to give the Jazz their third straight win.

Conley finished the night with 15 points, eight assists, four rebounds and four steals, a masterful performance from someone who dominated a game despite shooting 10 times.

“The shots weren’t falling for me personally. … But I had some really good looks late in the times I’m used to playing,” Conley said after the game.

“I didn’t think he was having a bad night. … I was like, ‘When I watch him shoot, I expect the ball to go in,'” Snyder said of Conley.

Conley’s late-game heroics aside, Mitchell and Gobert were sensational for much of the night.

Gobert appears fully recovered from his calf strain suffered earlier this month when he finished with his third straight double-double since returning from All-Star break. Against the undersized Rockets, Gobert was unstoppable in the paint as he finished with 27 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks on 12-of-14 shooting from the floor.

While Gobert took care of business downstairs, Mitchell was the destroyer on the perimeter.

As he has done since returning from a severe concussion, Mitchell crumbled on the offensive side. He finished with 37 points, 10 assists and three steals, shooting 13 of 27 from the floor. He exploded for 13 points in the first quarter, then scored six straight in overtime to keep the Jazz close.

“It feels good to come out of here with a win, but we have to find a way not to lose an 18-point lead,” Mitchell said.

Despite playing late in a straight game, the Rockets caught fire, taking a 9-4 lead on three three-pointers. But the Jazz, behind Mitchell’s play, clinched a 10-0 run to take a 25-20 lead after one.

Houston rallied to take a one-point lead midway through the second before Utah rallied again. Starting with a Bojan Bogdanovic three-pointer and ending with a jumper from him, the Jazz went 21-3 before leading 66-53 at the break.

The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair as Utah was able to push their lead to 17 on more than one occasion while the Rockets were able to cut it into single digits on more than one occasion. But the Jazz still entered the fourth quarter leading by 10 and setting the stage for a thrilling end.

“I think the way we played at the end, I don’t think we deserved to win. … It was good that we had a chance to redeem ourselves in overtime,” Gobert said.

Bogdanovic finished with 18 points and five rebounds, while Jordan Clarkson added 14 off the bench. Royce O’Neale was solid again, finishing with nine points, nine rebounds, four assists and excellent defense against Rockets point guard Kevin Porter Jr.

Utah continues their roast trip when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. MST.


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