I did not feel like the Utah Jazz (1-2) stole game one against the Los Angeles Clippers (2-1). Those Jazz players dug deep and earned it. In the same vein, these Clippers did not steal game three. They earned it. Their decisive run in the fourth quarter, that was the game winner. Or loser if you are coming from our side. The Clippers won 111-106. It was in some ways the inverse of Game 2. In that game the Jazz were blasted early, but won two of the next three quarters and tied the other. Tonight we saw the Clippers were on their heels in the first, but won the next three quarters.
Even more impressive? Blake Griffin sustained a right toe bruise and had to leave the game in the second quarter. So hats off to them.
Both teams did not play the perfect game. They combined for 19 turn overs and 20 missed free throws. TWENTY!
It was not a perfect game, but started off as one for the Jazz, as Gordon Hayward dropped a Jazz franchise career high 21 points in a quarter. The rest of the way he would score 19 more points for a career high 40. 40 in a losing effort isn’t going to make G-Time happy at all.
One guy who is happy? Chris Paul. They recovered home court advantage. He won a game that was tough. And the Clippers won their 9th ever road game with this six season old core. It was a big game. And honestly, it should have been a Jazz win.
Utah was up by 14, but could not hold on. That fourth quarter 13-0 run was what clinched this game. Utah’s offense was just not capable enough when the game got tight. DeAndre Jordan hitting four free throws in a row in the third was also odd, but hats off to him too.
J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford also made jumpers tonight, which is something we didn’t see in Game 1 or 2. They combined for 17 points in a game where LAC finally burst through to score 100+ points. Having multiple options contribute really helped this team fight back. Chris Paul took over at the end, and finished the Jazz.
Quin Snyder had a good gameplan, and it worked early. But it’s the little things that make a difference. Rodney Hood and George Hill missed 4 free throws. Derrick Favors couldn’t even make one. Shelvin Mack was impossible and invisible on defense. Joe Ingles missed one on a potential four point play.
Later on in the game Chris Paul would convert a four point play.
And in crunch time with seconds to play Boris Diaw was fouled before attempting a three - that went in. That could have been ANOTHER four point play attempt. Instead he went 1 for 2 from the line.
This was a game the Jazz should have won. And after Blake went out, this was a game they had to win. They did not.
While there is no pressure on Utah to perform, it’s likely that a lot of the pressure is now off the Clippers.
Game 4, at home, is on Sunday.