It really was a tale of two halves for the Jazz. There were so many misses in the first half, it almost became unwatchable. But what kept the Jazz in this game was some incredible defensive performances from so many players. Royce O’Neale had some monster plays and did as good a job as anyone can guarding Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Rudy Gobert was fantastic all night at the rim and Derrick Favors came in and absolutely changed the game against the Clippers second unit.
That defense kept the Jazz at halftime down just 13. Without those performances, Utah would have found themselves in a blowout.
The second half was a masterpiece for the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell showed everyone that the bubble was no fluke. 45 had 45 on 16/30 shooting and 6/15 from three. He also put in 7/8 from the line. Oh and he produced for others with 5 assists. The Jazz absolutely missed Mike Conley in this one but Donovan Mitchell’s superstar performance powered the Jazz offense to the end. The Clippers have some decisions to make. They got a really nice shooting night from Luke Kennard, but he’s looking like fresh meat to Mitchell whenever he’s on the floor. Every switch got Kennard on Mitchell and he drove to the rim with ruthless dominance. We’ll see if Kennard plays next game.
Rudy Gobert had the play of the night with an absolutely masterful block on Marcus Morris Sr. in the corner to ice the win. Gobert dominated tonight like he always does and anchored the defense all night whether it was protecting the rim or switching out on the perimeter. At times he guarded both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. If anyone had questions about who the DPOY is, tonight gave you the answer. It would be appropriate to give him the trophy tomorrow after a dominant performance like tonight.
Derrick Favors deserves massive credit. He’s been incredible all playoffs and might have had his best game in a Jazz jersey tonight. Play after play he grabbed rebounds, blocked shots and bullied the Clipper’s bigs. If they get this from Favors all series, things are looking good for Utah.
In all honestly, each of these players on the Jazz deserve credit. The team as a whole never gave up when the chips were down in the first quarter and didn’t let up defensively. Clarkson, who missed every non-three went 6/18 from the field and 6/14 from three for 42%. But it wasn’t just his three point shooting, Clarkson made an incredible rotation that netted him a steal in crunch time that was as big as any shot the Jazz made.
Bojan Bogdanovic was surprisingly good guarding the Clippers wings. On top of that he scored 18 with 50% shooting from three and some nice buckets from the post.
All in all a huge win for the Jazz missing Conley and overcoming a dreadful shooting night in the first quarter.
On to Game 2!