I can't get over the fact that the Los Angeles Clippers don't suck . . . but we're the lotto team (and have been for a while now). It's crazy when you recognize just how poorly run LA was for decades. But their fortunes changed by drafting a great player high in the lotto, and then building around him. The Utah Jazz are a few steps behind, mainly because there are no franchise players on the team -- while the Clippers have two.
Someone wrote a primer to this game in the Downbeat, so I'll crib some of that here:
The Clippers are 10-5 right now, and 6-2 on the road. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and have won 3 in a row. That said, they are only 7th in the West right now, which shows you a) how competitive the conference is, and b) how inconsistent LA has been.
Of course, this game will be the final game of a seven game road trip, which had them play @ Orlando, @ Miami, @ Memphis, @ Charlotte, @ Detroit, @ Houston, and now @ Utah. They played last night, and this game will be their third in four nights, and a million other things regressing all the way back to their 7th game in 11 nights.
The only game they dropped so far on this trip was a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies (107-91), otherwise they've been handling their business.
They'll be looking for their 11th straight win against the Jazz tonight. I hope it doesn't happen, though.
Overall, the Jazz are 98-69 against the Clippers, and a dominating 61-21 in Utah. But as that smart guy above writes, they are looking for their 11th straight against the Jazz with a win tonight. They should be a little tired though. That MUST help the Jazz. Utah's last five games were all well spaced out, and had the team beating Oklahoma City, then losing games to Golden State, New Orleans, Chicago, and then the same Oklahoma City team again.
These two teams are aiming for different things this season, and their records indicate as much.
Tonight will be tough for the Jazz because the Clippers, while posing no overt match-up problems, are just more talented. Chris Paul is better than Trey Burke riding on Dante Exum's shoulders. And they have a guy coming off the bench, Jamal Crawford, who is averaging about the same scoring numbers as our best player Gordon Hayward (18.4 ppg, 13.1 FGA for Crawford, 18.6 ppg, 13.3 FGA for Hayward). They are at a higher level right now as a team -- even if they don't look as complete as a squad from 1 down through to 15.
Wow, remember when Hedo Turkoglu used to be good? Well, yeah, he's still not bad. Chris Paul is playing great this year, and Blake Griffin is much more dangerous now that he has an outside shot. DeAndre Jordan is still horrible at free throw shooting, but seems to play well against the Jazz. And like I said earlier, Jamal Crawford can score, score, score.
So, yeah, our starters do most of the heavy lifting, but you'd expect that at some state #5 draft pick Dante Exum starts to play more aggressively. I'd love that, personally. Tonight would be a good time because Jordan Farmar shouldn't be able to stay in front of him. Enes Kanter seems to do well against teams from LA, so it would be nice to see him keep Blake Griffin honest on defense. Of course, that means he'll have to avoid foul trouble though. I don't know if that is going to happen.
- Chris Douglas-Roberts (LAC) is out tonight
- Jeremy Evans (UTA) is out tonight
- Rodney Hood (UTA) is probable for tonight
- Toure' Murry (UTA) is with the Idaho Stampede
If Rodney Hood is going to play today that's going to be great for Jazz fans. Our offense hasn't looked that good at times this season, and he's just the type of guy who can create for himself or his team -- and make open jumpers.
The Jazz are at home, the Clippers are tired, but they are a better team. So, uh, this should be a wash. LA played last night, and very few of their recent games have been close. They are rolling right now.
Spencer Hawes, emboldened by playing in the homeland for all Spencers -- Utah, goes off for 16 points tonight and hits two threes.