It’s been a while since I’ve complained about a lack of rebounding with the Utah Jazz. In fact, it’s since the last time they played the LA Clippers. And those rebounding issues were the story of the game in the first quarter. Zubac embarrassed the Jazz on the glass and the Clippers ended up with 12 offensive rebounds in the quarter alone. TEN offensive rebounds in ONE quarter. That’s unacceptable. Unsurprisingly, the Clippers took a 10 point lead from the quarter.
Joe Ingles is back and I’m all here for it. That man has been absolutely money from down town for all of December. He hit his first 3 threes tonight to start off the game and that’s about all the Jazz offense had for a while.
In quarter number 2, wow all of the sudden the Jazz started clicking. I really like what Jordan Clarkson provides off the bench. It’s so nice for Donovan to have another legitimate scoring threat out there to take the pressure off on some possessions. He may not know the offense yet, but honestly I feel like that’s an advantage right now. He’s just out there making plays, whether that’s scoring or a couple nice assists.
The Clippers bench is honestly unfair. They already have a contender-level starting lineup, but their bench is one of the best in the league as well. Can you imagine if the Jazz had guys like Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, JaMychal Green, and Landry Shamet coming off the bench!? One can dream...
At the half the Clippers lead was sliced down to 2 lead at 63-61.
The 2nd half was an absolute battle and an absolute treat. The Jazz kept their 2nd quarter rhythm going in the 3rd and got their first lead since the early goings of the game. Royce O’Neale is just a fantastic defender. He put the absolute clamps down on Kawhi Leonard tonight like I’ve never seen before.
Donovan Mitchell got it going in the 3rd quarter. He wanted the ball and he wasn’t going to be stopped for a few possessions. I love watching that kid play basketball when he is on like that. The Jazz let a solid lead slip late in the quarter, but you can do much worse than entering the 4th with a 1 point lead on the road to one of the best teams in the league playing at full strength.
One of the nice surprises about Jordan Clarkson is his fearlessness. With the game on the line Clarkson was comfortable taking difficult shots and making them. But the story of the fourth quarter was Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell is doing superstar things. There are players that put up big numbers and there are players who make winning plays. Mitchell is absolutely the latter and should be making an appearance in Chicago this year for the all-star game.
Rational Reaction #1: Joe Ingles is back
I’ll be completely honest, I had lost a lot of faith in Joe Ingles at the beginning of the year. I was getting really worried about that extension we gave him as well. But boy am I happy to eat crow. Not including tonight’s game, he is putting up ridiculous numbers in the month of December. To the tune of nearly 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. He’s an assassin from downtown as well, connecting on 53.6% of his three point shots. Every time he throws it up I feel like it’s going to drop.
This is a significant development for the Jazz, particularly when Conley gets back and healthy. That means whoever slides into the 2nd unit gives the Jazz bench a big boost. Speaking of big boosts
Rational Reaction #2: Jordan Clarkson will win the Jazz some games this year
Clarkson was amazing in the first half of this game. He gave the Jazz offense a jolt when they needed it most and scored 13 to lead all scorers in the game. He was doing a little bit of everything. Hitting the 3 ball, driving and dishing, playing solid defense. He’s going to be an impact player for the Jazz assuming he sticks around this year. It’s only been 2 games, but that move will be a good one for the Jazz. I think he’ll play a key role in several wins this year.
Over-reaction: Ed Davis is on the trading block
The Ed Davis signing looked brilliant in the summer. Things don’t always work out the way you expected. He was supposed to be 75% of Derrick Favors at a fraction of the cost, but it hasn’t turned out that way at all. For whatever reason, he just doesn’t seem to fit the Utah Jazz system. Quin Snyder has been forced to try different combinations, leading to a DNP for Davis tonight. I absolutely believe that he can still play ball and has value around the league. I also believe that Justin Zanik will be shopping him to see how the bench can be further improved before the deadline.
Under-reaction: This was not a well balanced officiating crew
Look, I really try to not blame the refs in sports. It’s so typical and gets so old. But come on, the Clippers had 21 free throws to Utah’s 4 at the end of the third quarter. Four free throws? Are you kidding me?! Then the refs gift the Clippers a BS technical that had Quin and the bench laughing and saying, “come on... a technical for THAT?”
Unfortunately that free throw disparity played a big role in this one. Could the Jazz still have found a way to win? Of course, but it sure makes it a lot harder when the whistle goes against you that consistently.