"This is on us; we've just got to f**king play better" - Donovan Mitchell shifts the blame from the Utah Jazz coaching staff to the players after the unexpected loss to the New Orleans Pelicans

Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday [Source: Deseret News]
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday [Source: Deseret News]
Kunal Sethi

Donovan Mitchell took the blame for the Utah Jazz's disappointing loss against bottom-table New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. They lost 98-97 after a game-winning three-pointer by Devonte' Graham.

However, it wasn't a game winner by the Pelicans that cost the Jazz a win on the night. The title-contending Jazz played lackadaisical basketball all night, and had practically no energy in their game.

Donovan Mitchell acknowledged his team's lack of attention and energy, during the postgame press conference. He said that head coach Quin Snyder or the coaching staff cannot be held responsible for the loss, as the players are the ones to blame. He said:

"At this point, it’s really on us. You can’t put it on Quin or the coaches or the assistants. This is on us. We have to execute better. We have to play better, man. We’ve just got to f***in’ play better."

Referring to the one-point loss against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, Mitchell added that it wasn't the first time the Jazz endured a loss like that. He said:

"We're just not playing well. I'm just not playing well. I mean, it just doesn't look good right now. This sh*** happened twice in a week. This shouldn’t happen."
Donovan Mitchell on the Jazz's recent struggles: "This is not who we are. This is not what we do. And we're going to fix it."

Donovan Mitchell was right to take the blame for the loss. Firstly, the team's star is expected to be a leader and take responsibility for the losses. And secondly, this wasn't Mitchell's best night anyway.

He had several key turnovers, including the final play that led to Devonte' Graham's game winner at the other end. Mitchell has never been known for his defensive prowess, but his performance in the game was worse than usual. He was a 0 in box +/-, and had four turnovers for six assists as well.

First off, this is ummm ... a terrible possession by Donovan Mitchell.Pelicans take the lead with Devonté Graham's transition 3. Bench goes absolutely nuts

Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell frustrated with the Utah Jazz's loss to the New Orleans Pelicans

Rudy Gobert, Royce O'Neale and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz against the New Orleans Pelicans
Rudy Gobert, Royce O'Neale and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz against the New Orleans Pelicans

The Utah Jazz are championship contenders, but no one takes them seriously because of their underwhelming playoff record.

They have always managed to come up short in the postseason. That is one of the key reasons why analysts or pundits rarely pick them to win the West despite their regular-season dominance. The Utah Jazz haven't done anything to change that narrative. In close-game situations, their turnovers increase, shots don't fall, and easy defensive assignments are messed up.

French big man Rudy Gobert lamented the team's lack of a clutch identity after the game, saying:

"I don’t know how many years we’re gonna keep losing in the playoffs, and not learn from it. I might be 30. I might be 40. We need to put our egos aside and learn...We’re not playing like a team that wants to compete for a championship...Even the young teams are playing better than us in the clutch."

Most fans on social media blame Mitchell for poor decision-making and unacceptable shot selection. With the game on the line, he bled the clock to the end of the shot clock before attempting a wild layup in traffic.

He had four other players waiting on a pick or some kick-out pass that never came. Utah Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune broke down Mitchell's play in his postgame report. He highlighted how the 25-year-old needs to fare much better in clutch situations.

Although Mitchell had just four turnovers in 34 minutes, the likes of Russell Westbrook and James Harden rack up more in lesser minutes. It wasn't the Pelicans, the 26th-best defense in the NBA, playing incredibly at the defensive end. Mitchell's litany of unforced errors just stood out on the night.

In one of Andy Larsen's video attached above, Donovan Mitchell had an easy inbound pass to Gobert. But he read the play wrong and cost the team the possession. He also sloppily threw away an easy pass.

Donovan Mitchell's turnovers could be excused if he had shot better. But he went 6-21 (28%) from the floor, including 2-7 (28%) from beyond the arc on the night. Analyzing his game in the postgame presser, Mitchell admitted his shortcomings, saying:

"This is not who we are. This is not what we do. And we're going to fix it. We have to be better; I have to be better. We have to start moving the ball, or this is going to be who we are."

Donovan Mitchell posted on Twitter with the caption 'Keep pushing'. He's expected to have a much better outing in the Jazz's next game. They take on the Pelicans again at the back end of a two-game set on Saturday, where they'll have a chance to redeem themselves.

Edited by Bhargav
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