Game two of the Utah Jazz and LA Clippers series was a roller coaster. The Jazz started off hot. And by that, I mostly mean that Donovan Mitchell started off hot. He scored eight of the first 10 points for the Jazz, and that set the tone for the team. Mitchell has been a superstar in every game of this postseason, and tonight was no different.
The Clippers made a change to their starting lineup, playing Ivica Zubac rather than Nicolas Batum. This change meant that the Clippers strategy for defending the pick and roll was dropping the big. Donovan Mitchell ate that alive.
Donovan Mitchell on LA starting drop big: "I think if there was one defense we're the most comfortable against, it would be that."— Ryan Miller (@millerjryan) June 11, 2021
Mitchell scored 27 in the first half, and 37 in the full game. To help him in the scoring department, Jordan Clarkson had a signature flamethrower game, full of audacious shot selection and ridiculous levels of confidence. When Clarkson is able to hit his off-the-dribble threes, the Jazz are incredibly difficult to guard.
The Jazz had things rolling in the late second and early third quarters, when the Clippers made a momentous adjustment. They switched to a zone defense. All of the sudden the Jazz looked like they didn’t know how to play the game. Their offense ground to a halt, and the Clippers took advantage. A 21 point lead was erased in minutes. Reggie Jackson hit big shot after big shot, Paul George found his confidence, and all of the sudden, it was a game again.
LA fought all the way back to a 101-99 lead following a pair of Reggie Jackson threes, and the pressure was on.
The Jazz didn’t back down.
A classic Utah Jazz 14-2 run commenced immediately. Joe Ingles driving layup. Bojan Bogdanovic transition three. Rudy Gobert and-1 dunk from the pick and roll. Royce O’Neale three off a kick-out. Joe Ingles transition three.
In game one, the Jazz relied on Donovan Mitchell to close the game. In game two, while Mitchell was undeniably fantastic, the Jazz role players were able to close the game. That shows the versatility of this team. Utah has a star guard who can take the game into his own hands. Utah also has a team full of ballers who can punish you if you aren’t careful.
After a final push from LA, the Jazz closed out the game with free throws. Final from Salt Lake City, 117-111.
Credit needs to be given to Bojan Bogdanovic for his defense so far this series. Bogey isn’t known for his defense, but he has stepped up in a big way. He’s often been tasked with defending Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and he has not only held his ground, but he’s excelled. Kawhi was frequently forced to pass the ball when he wanted to shoot. Bogdanovic gives him no ground in the post. His physicality has bothered Leonard visibly. That, along with the ever strong defense of Royce O’Neale, has been a huge part of the Jazz two wins.
Donovan Mitchell was incredible, especially in the first half, but I think tonight’s proverbial game ball belongs to the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Rudy Gobert finished the game with 13 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. The defense down the stretch was what won the game for Utah, and as always, Gobert was the focal point of that defense.
Honorable mentions to Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson, and Bojan Bogdanovic.
The Jazz are up 2-0 as the series moves to Los Angeles. Game three is scheduled for Saturday evening.