High-scoring Mitchell appreciative of 'phenomenal' reception as Utah return ends in defeat

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Donovan Mitchell was thankful for the "phenomenal" reception he received on his return to the Utah Jazz, though was left to rue Jordan Clarkson's form in a tight defeat.

Mitchell spent five seasons with the Jazz before he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers last year.

Lauri Markkanen was part of that trade and had a double-double of 25 points and 16 rebounds against his former team as he became the second-fastest player in franchise history to reach 1,000 points. Likewise, Mitchell showed just why the Cavs signed him with a game-leading 46-point haul.

Mitchell has broken the 40-point mark in a career-high five games this season, but it was not enough to down his old employers, who triumphed 116-114 after Clarkson came to the fore, netting nine of his 32 points in the final quarter.

The Jazz paid tribute to three-time All-Star Mitchell before Tuesday's game by showing a highlights reel of his time in Utah, while the home crowd gave him an ovation.

"I was really comfortable," Mitchell told the media.

"It wasn't weird. It was just like playing as I have here for the last five years. The reception was phenomenal, and I'm appreciative of it."

Mitchell was handed a rest in the third quarter, though that was when Clarkson began to swing the momentum Utah's way.

"He had that look in his eye, and I was just like, damn, it's going to be one of those back-and-forth nights," Mitchell said.

Clarkson explained: "I was just being aggressive in those moments. Throughout the game, I saw what they were doing defensively and just started being aggressive in the fourth."

Walker Kessler was tasked with marking Mitchell and had nothing but praise for his former team-mate.

"He's an unbelievable guy, man," said 21-year-old Kessler, who joined the Jazz three months before Mitchell left.

"I mean, obviously, I haven't known him too long, but even [when we played] at Cleveland, he came up to me and was super, super encouraging.

"It was really cool to see the Utah fan base get so excited for him. Great player, great guy."

The Cavs have lost two of their last three games but are still well placed in the Eastern Conference with a 26-15 record, while the Jazz are just above the play-in line in the West.