Blake Taaffe believes he is more ready to fill in for the injured Latrell Mitchell than when he helped get South Sydney to last year's NRL grand final.Mitchell was due for scans on his troublesome left hamstring on Sunday, as the Rabbitohs hope his time on the NRL sidelines will be minimal.
Donovan Mitchell scored 30 of his 32 points after halftime, Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 26 and the Utah Jazz opened the NBA Playoffs with a 99-93 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, who were without injured All-Star guard Luka Doncic.
Bogdanovic had Utah's only two three-pointers before halftime, in a 13-2 run over the final three-and-a-half minutes that put the Jazz ahead to stay. Mitchell, who always seems to step up in the postseason, came alive after the break.
The fourth-seeded Mavericks, starting the playoffs at home for the first time since their NBA title season 11 years ago, sorely missed their 23-year-old superstar. Doncic strained his left calf six days earlier in the regular-season finale. Coach Jason Kidd has said only that he is day-to-day.
Hamstrung Mitchell an Origin doubt for NSW
Latrell Mitchell is in doubt for this year's State of Origin opener after South Sydney confirmed a hamstring tear will sideline the NSW star for eight weeks.Mitchell limped off in the first half of last Saturday's 24-12 win over St George Illawarra at Accor Stadium.
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Game two in the best-of-seven series on Tuesday morning AEST in Dallas.
Jalen Brunson, the starting point guard with Doncic out, had 24 points on nine-of-24 shooting with seven rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie scored 22 points, Reggie Bullock added 15 and Dorian Finney-Smith 14.
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With Doncic in a black hoodie on the bench, the Mavericks cut an 11-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter to 92-91 on a three-pointer by Maxi Kleber with 2:12 left. After Mitchell missed, the Mavs had the chance to take their first lead in the second half, but Kleber missed badly on another long-range shot.
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Royce O'Neale then scored his only basket for the Jazz, a three-pointer from the corner after he had first missed inside and then got a pass from Mitchell. Utah finished with a 20-7 edge in second-chance points.
The Jazz, who were second in the NBA with 14.5 made three-pointers a game, missed their first nine shots from beyond the arc until Bogdanovic hit from the right corner in front of the Dallas bench to get them within 41-35 with 3:10 left in the second quarter.
Utah’s only other 3 before halftime by Bogdanovic with 2.2 seconds left for a 45-43 lead after taking a pass back from Mitchell.
Doncic spent the game at the end of the Mavericks bench, at one point munching popcorn from a cup in his hand late in the first quarter. He was on the other side of owner Mark Cuban as both — along with much of the Mavs bench — acted in dismay with 31 seconds left in the first half after Kleber was called for a foul when Bogdanovic went hard into him to draw the call.
Bogdanovic made both of those free throws, and Brunson hit a tough shot at the other end, but the Utah forward made his half-ending 3 that put the Jazz ahead to stay.
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NRL great backs Kotoni Staggs to replace Latrell Mitchell in NSW team .
NRL great Ryan Girdler believes Kotoni Staggs has done enough to warrant a spot in the New South Wales State of Origin squad in place of the injured Latrell Mitchell. The South Sydney star has been ruled out for eight weeks with a hamstring issue and is a major doubt ahead of the interstate series opener on June 8 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.Blues coach Brad Fittler is spoilt for choices when it comes to a potential replacement and Girdler suggested it would be hard to look past Staggs.