What a crazy game. The Los Angeles Clippers, once up by 15 points, found themselves looking at a blowout. Only for the Utah Jazz to mount a furious comeback to tie it up all twice in the third quarter. LA predated upon the inexperienced Jazz by getting easy buckets (mostly facilitated by the expert Chris Paul), and moved the ball around for open jumpers; but Utah did not say die. Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter were taking care of business inside and out and keeping the Jazz in it.
Sure, a road game against a big market team -- so it was expected that the Jazz would not be getting the calls early or late. And to their credit, the Clippers took advantage of their busy hands allowance and were hounding the Jazz on defense -- forcing turn over after turn over in the first half. A 13 point halftime lead seemed like it would spell the doom for the Jazz, but these kids never say die.
Quin Snyder gave yet another inspiring half time speech and his team cut the defficit from 13 to just 3 going into the fourth. LA wanted to establish the 4th as their quarter, but Alec Burks and Rodney Hood kept them honest early on. And then the Jazz took a 77-75 lead on a Dante Exum block, followed quickly in transition with an Alec Burks oop to Rudy Gobert for the finish. But LA wasn't going to give up the ghost on their own home court to a bunch of upstarts. Utah was down by 6 with 3:18 remaining, but they could have been closer if they were better capable of handling defense pressure.
Trevor Booker started to do his Paul Millsap "Miracle in Miami" impersonation with put back slams and three point splashes, but LA kept the Jazz just barely out of reach. Sure, if this is a home game for Utah maybe some of the calls go their way, but this is what winning on the road is like.
You have to be the other team with authority. And that is something the Clippers failed to do at home against our young squad. This is what we wanted. Nothing left in the tank, hustle, effort, and to compete in the games. Giving the Clippers, a possible championship contender, a scare on their home court is a great way to make the rest of the league take the Jazz seriously.
This team could have won, but there's no reason to be sad with this loss.
It's hard not to love this team when they play like this.
GO JAZZ GO!
- "Hollywood" Enes Kanter, had a great comeback game with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and went 3/3 from the FT line. Even more impressive was his ability to muscle in shots with contact against all defenders
- Gordon Hayward was spectacular, going for 27 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and knocking down 5 threes on his way to nearly shooting 50 fg%
- Trevor Booker is the super sub of the first week of the season, and looks to continue in that role early on in week two. He had something like 8 fourth quarter points, and went 2/3 from outside while on his way to a 12 / 5 / 2 / 1 night.
- Turn Overs, the Jazz gave up so much by not even being able to get a shot off. In a 6 point loss that's a big deal -- especially when you cough up the ball 17 times, especially so much in crunch time.
- Free Throw Shooting, you can't gripe much when the team goes 19/24 (79.2 FT%), but those late 4th quarter FT misses seem to mean more when the game is so close. Good teams finish with perfect execution. This, along with the turn overs, shows just what the team needs to improve on in order to be road killers. (And not road kill)
- Three point defense, this seems to be the thing that's going to persist for a while as our scheme gets fully learned. I'm not going to be happy when Reggie Bullock types bust out for 4/6 shooting nights against the Jazz. This is just like what happened against Houston and Dallas. Random guys making shots cannot be part of the plan. Gotta close out harder.
Over all I was happy with this game, the team is showing so much. This is what not skipping steps looks like, but moreover, this is what good basketball teams start off as. There's good basketball here, and these Utah Jazz players are going to wow people this year. They play next, on Wednesday, against the Cleveland Cavaliers at home.