The Utah Jazz (3-2) defeated the Los Angeles Clippers (2-3) tonight by the final score of 96-92. This was a close game in how it started and ended; however, the Jazz were in control. And this win gives them 3 out of the 4 that they need in order to complete the first round, and advance to the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Time and time again we were subject to the Los Angeles Clippers holding on defense and getting ticky tack fouls on offense, but big baskets by the Jazz triumvirate (Joe Johnson, Gordon Hayward, and Rodney Hood) kept Chris Paul and his crew from winning on their home
library court in front of their fan.
The Clippers started off really determined and ran up to an early 7-0 run. The Jazz responded with an 11-0 run to take the lead. There were eight lead changes from that point on until the halftime break. What did we see? LA won the first quarter, but Utah was missing open jumpers. Both teams were taking care of the glass, but the Clippers were more active on defense and disrupting the passing lanes for the Jazz.
J.J. Redick came out of his slumber in this one and was making shots and playing good defense. He also would drive with purpose to the rim, and score a few times over the set defense. It was a sight for sore eyes for his fans. And he would finish with 26 points. Of course because this is how things go, Jamal Crawford would shoot 2/8 in this game and finish with just 4 points.
Furthermore, in the first half we saw Doc Rivers take away minutes from Raymond Felton - who had been torching the Jazz in the previous four games - in order to play his son Austin Rivers, who would shoot 0/4 and finish with just 2 points. These were some iffy adjustments.
Another one was starting Paul Pierce after half - with his team already down 46-43.
The Jazz were just suffocating on defense, forcing turn overs (very rare for this team) and scoring in transition (even more rare). Utah would finish with 13 forced turn overs in a 91.8 possession game, and scoring 14 points off of them. Easy baskets are nice. But more nice than that was Gordon Hayward getting the ball, and getting buckets regardless of who was on him.
He shot 9/16 overall, 4/8 from three, and 5/5 from the line. He would also finish with 8 points ,4 assists, 2 steals, and that 4:1 assist to turn over ratio. His 27 points led all scorers on the Jazz (only Chris Paul’s 28 was more). When Hayward wasn’t in the game Utah was able to get one-on-one buckets from Joe Johnson - who went on a tear in the late third and transformed a non-existent Jazz lead into one that LAC just couldn’t surpass.
Because he is the obvious focus for the defense he was able to find open men for good shots, or hockey assists. Utah’s ability to share the ball (25 assists to LAC’s partly 16) is a difference maker on offense.
And it’s a different maker in this game when LA goes to the line twice as much as Utah, and still loses.
Utah shot their worst from deep, but made the shots in the second half when they counted. Rodney Hood was ready and wrecking LA with his late game ice-veins. He’s really gaining a lot of XP by playing alongside his idol.
LA would make it close because of free throws and Paul three pointers, but they just didn’t have it. Their absurdly high .348 FT/FGA ratio couldn’t even save them. Pathetic. The refs were even icing George Hill on end of game free throws, but they couldn’t shake his focus.
And it was a two-way focus. Utah held LA to under 100 ONCE AGAIN. And Rudy Gobert really is destroying Doc Rivers - maybe he should game plan for him? Gobert finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 5 steals, and 2 blocks.
Great team win. Really tough to win two games on the road in the playoffs, but they did it. Game 6 is on Friday, late night, on ESPN.