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Donovan Mitchell is becoming a legend in Utah

Rookie sets playoff scoring mark as team closes in on second round

8:05 AMDonovan Mitchell was about to be interviewed after leading the Utah Jazz to one win away from the second round of the NBA playoffs when the home crowd gave him a roaring standing ovation. Mitchell had just surpassed Hall of Famer Karl Malone to score a Jazz rookie playoff-record 33 points in a 113-96 victory in Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.

A touched Mitchell was at a loss for words. He threw his hands in the air in appreciation and turned away to hug teammate Derrick Favors. And while the 21-year-old’s scoring and dunking have spoken volumes during his rookie campaign, he learned on this night that winning is what makes you a legend in Utah.

“To be honest, a lot of this is surreal,” Mitchell told reporters. “I’m just taking it game by game and not really getting caught up in the big picture. Just focusing game by game.”

Mitchell was a superstar during NBA summer league after being selected 13th overall in the 2017 NBA draft. The former University of Louisville star averaged a rookie-best 20.5 points per game this season while making the highlight reels with his athletic drives, high-flying slams and nailed 3-pointers. The four-time Western Conference Rookie of the Month set the Jazz rookie scoring record and also won the 2018 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

Malone and Darrell Griffith were great rookies for the Jazz, but truth be told, they have been surpassed by Mitchell. And while Mitchell showed his youth and had fun engaging in a Rookie of the Year battle of words with Philadelphia forward Ben Simmons, Mitchell’s focus has changed solely to winning in the postseason.

“I am just focused on the task at hand,” Mitchell said. “The biggest thing with me is if I start thinking about the individual stuff and all the stuff that really matters to the team, that’s when you kind of lose your head.

“You’ve got to give your all for your teammates. I’m just trying to give my all any way I can. It’s definitely an honor.”

Said Jazz coach Quin Snyder: “I don’t think he’s trying to do anything special. He’s playing.”

The NBA playoffs are a different level, and the expectation was that this rookie would crawl at first. Reality is nothing has changed, as Mitchell has been the best player on the floor in this first-round series against a Thunder team with three future Hall of Famers in 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, five-time All-Star Paul George and 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony.

Mitchell joined Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Lou Hudson as the only rookies to score more than 100 points in their first four playoff games.

While the Jazz’s young star seems to be setting a new scoring mark each game, the number Mitchell is most interested in is a series-ending fourth win.

“We have one more game, so I’m focused on that,” Mitchell said.

Said Favors: “He has been doing it all year for us. Making plays. Making shots. He has been huge for us all year, and hopefully he can keep it up and we can keep it up as a team the rest of the series.”

The Drake-Kelly Oubre ‘beef’ proves just how good the rapper really is

Drizzy is firmly planting himself as a storyline in the NBA playoffs — and the Wizards star may just be a pawn

5:58 PMThe Toronto Raptors are up 2-0 in their first-round series against the Washington Wizards. And in those two games, Drake has finagled his way into the series’ storylines. Before Game 1, he engaged in Instagram comment warfare with John Wall. Exhibit A:

This led to the “God’s Plan” rapper taunting Wall from the sideline during Tuesday night’s Game 2. Exhibit B:

During the same game, Drake and third-year Wizards forward Kelly Oubre crossed paths as the cameras caught the former calling the latter “a bum.” Exhibit C:

Leave it to social media to recover an old Oubre tweet from 2011 in which he said the rapper had no swag — which was deleted almost immediately after Tuesday night’s game. Oubre downplayed the incident, saying the two were jawing back and forth all game. Exhibit D:

The trash talk compounds to a fascinating subplot in the playoffs that highlights courtside celebrities involving themselves in the game, most recently evidenced by Dwyane Wade and comedian Kevin Hart in Game 2 of the Philadelphia 76ers/Miami Heat series. But the dynamic isn’t new — the league’s greatest athlete-celebrity rivalry was basketball star Reggie Miller and film director Spike Lee. But let’s focus on Drake for a second. Whether you deem him a fair-weather fan or not, there’s no denying his love for the NBA. There’s also no denying everything he does is with a purpose. Drake is either rap’s savviest director, an evil marketing genius or a love child of the two. Look no further than last week’s Atlanta episode, appropriately titled Champagne Papi, which even served as part of the rollout for his newest anthem, “Nice For What” — which, this week, replaced his previous No. 1, “God’s Plan,” as the top song in the country. And on Monday, he announced the title of his highly anticipated new album, Scorpion, dropping in June. All the pieces matter.

His hometown Raptors are the top seed in the Eastern Conference. A potential second-round matchup against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers looms on the horizon. And his album could very well drop dead-square in the middle of the NBA Finals. From Fortnite to hit TV shows, Drake has firmly entrenched himself in several culturally relevant conversations. The NBA playoffs are just his latest muse.