This was supposed to be a marque matchup between two two the best teams in the league, the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers. However, Mike Conley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nic Batum, and Luke Kennard all sat with various injuries.
Royce O'Neale made a quick three to open the game but the Jazz wouldn’t score again until after the eight minute mark in the quarter.
Both the Jazz and the Clippers were tossing up bricks in the first quarter. Pat Beverly stripped Donovan Mitchell on a drive and took it coast to coast for the layup, firing up the Clippers which led to a Utah Jazz timeout.
The Jazz finally scored again with a layup from Bojan Bogdanovic followed by a Joe Ingles three. Donovan Mitchell got on the board with a free throw and an assist to O’Neale with another 3 followed by 3s for Lou Williams and Marcus Morris Sr making it 12-17 Clippers.
Mitchell came out of the time out with a deep three, but with Rudy Gobert on the bench the Clippers answered with three buckets inside the paint.
With the Jazz down 17-23, unable to get the blender churning, they continued to settle for poor shots. Jordan Clarkson would eventually hit a three off a Derrick Favors screen to cut the deficit in half.
The next time down the floor Clarkson takes another three that bounces off the rim right into Gobert’s hands for a put back dunk. 24-25 Clippers after one.
Gobert and Clarkson would then score in side to start the second and put the Jazz up 30-25. The Jazz didn’t have any type of rhythm at this point but were still up 5. The Clippers were making just enough shots to keep it close.
Serge Ibaka would then hit 2 3-pointers over Gobert to give the Clippers a 42-48 lead with two minutes left in the half. Donovan Mitchell then had the best play of the half with a last second block on Terance Mann at the buzzer.
Gobert started off the second half scoring for the Jazz with a nice hook shot. Bogdanovic powered through for a three point play, only to be matched by Reggie Jackson with a three point play of his own on the other end. The Jazz couldn’t seem to get enough stops to make a run.
Michell then hit a long three to pull within one, followed by a dunk and free throw by Gobert which gave the Jazz their first lead of the second half, 60-59.
The Clippers answered with a jumper from Morris and a layup by Ibaka and Quin Snyder called timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Donovan Mitchell scores and then follows it up with a nice find to Georges Niang for a long three.
These are the things that Mitchell is doing that are making him an MVP candidate. He had a rough first half then comes out in the second and takes over. It’s also a credit to Quin Snyder who comes out after halftime with a game plan that wins the game.
Amir Coffee, probably not even playing under normal circumstances, nailed back to back threes to keep the Clippers within one. The Clippers announcers had several phrases in their toolbelt for such an occasion. “Gotta keep the Coffee brewin’.” “The Coffee kettle is still hot!” and “the Coffee grinder is still churning.”
Another dunk by Rudy gave the Jazz a 6-point leade heading into the 4th quarter, 81-75. It was the largest lead of the game at that point.
Clarkson opened the 4th quarter with a quick three, followed by a steal that lead to an Ingles three and Tyrone Lue called a quick timeout before even a minute had passed in the quarter.
Joe Ingles with a slow-mo and-1 layup out of the timeout made it 90-77 and the Jazz started to assert their will and pull away.
Clarkson would then hit a three just before a nasty Gobert block on Ivica Zubac and a hammer dunk on the other end making it 97-82.
Clarkson would then hit another 3 followed by a put back by Royce. Rudy Gobert would put a nail in the coffin with a nice block on Lou Williams and then put the Clippers to bed with 3 free throws pushing the lead to 20. Coach Lue emptied his bench with 5 minutes left and that was all she wrote.
The Jazz have now won 9 straight, 20 of 21, and sit at first place in the NBA standings at 24-5.
Mitchell scored 24 and Gobert had 23 points, 20 rebounds.... and one block? Only one? I watched him clearly block both Zubac and Williams in the 4th quarter. Clarkson would end the game with 18.
The Jazz will run it back against the Clippers in LA on Friday.
The Utah Jazz have everything you need to go to the NBA Finals...great guard play by Mike Conley & superstar Donovan Mitchell, dominate defense led by Rudy Gobert & Royce O'Neale, they are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league led by Joe Ingles & Bojan Bogdanovic— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) February 16, 2021
Rudy Gobert was easily the best player on the court tonight. During a sloppy first three quarters, Gobert held it down in the paint. And, as good as Favors is, there was clearly a drop off defensively when Gobert rested on the bench.
As mentioned above, he had 23 points, 20 rebounds, and definitely more than one block. The fact that he had 23 points is remarkable because he wasn’t involved in the game, at first offensively, at all.
Rudy Gobert tonight:— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 18, 2021
It’s his 4th career 20/20 game — only Karl Malone has more in the three-point era as a Jazz player. pic.twitter.com/mOKjc4G1dw
Gobert has also started to look more confident at the line recently. He went 7-8 from the line tonight.
Rudy Gobert, asked how he can improve after a game like tonight: "There'a always room to improve. I mean, I missed one free throw."— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) February 18, 2021
We may never truly understand or appreciate the impact of Rudy Gobert on the basketball floor. He is the very definition of an anchor.
Rudy Gobert is now the NBA's leader in plus-minus.— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) February 18, 2021
He overtakes Mike Conley at +279. Mike is +265 this season and hasn't played in six games (all wins for the Jazz.)