The Los Angeles Clippers (3-3) needed to win this game to stay alive, and they did exactly that by defeating the Utah Jazz (3-3) 98-93. This means there’s a Game 7, and that game will be on Sunday afternoon. This is the second time the Clippers beat the Jazz in Utah; matching the second time the Jazz beat the Clippers in LA. So crazy, right? The Clippers took this game much more seriously with their backs to the wall, and responded by doing the little things.
You know what I mean: they were able to shoot the ball and using muscle memory and practice, capable of putting it in the hoop thing. They shot .493 / .429 / .577 in a game where their opponents shot .410 / .269 / .667. They got good shots, moved the ball, and attacked the defense. Utah did the same thing, but missed.
Chris Paul was shooting early and his team was barely holding off a Jazz squad missing everything. When he started to move the defense around with his passes LA was able to go on a few runs. He helped on defense as well by being a general best, and was great at drawing fouls. Paul played like he knew his season would be over if he didn’t produce.
The Clippers bench also showed up in this game, with Marreese Speights finishing with 9 points (including a three) and 2 offensive rebounds and Jamal Crawford dropping 12 points off of 12 shots, while getting three assists and one steal. Furthermore, Doc Rivers made an adjustment to his starting line-up by inserting his son Austin Rivers. Rivers drilled three threes in this game, and I’d say the dagger.
LA was up by 14, but the Jazz fought back, made it close, but couldn’t get over the hump. LA was up by 10 with 1:29 to play, but over the next few seconds Gordon Hayward got to the line and made both free throws. He then stole the ball off of a solid trap and finished with a dunk. After another trap and turn over the Jazz got the ball back. They had a broken play offensive rebound that resulted in another Gordon Hayward score, a three! With 0:43 seconds to play it was 96-93.
The Jazz didn’t foul, Chris Paul missed a jumper with 19 seconds to play, DeAndre Jordan got the offensive rebound and missed, and Gordon Hayward got the defensive board with 0:15 seconds to play. Quin Synder didn’t call a time out, they got the ball to Joe Johnson, and got the switches they wanted with Jordan on him.
Joe Johnson set himself up for a step-back three but missed. LA would make two free throws to seal the game, and tie up the series 3-3.
This game was a great missed opportunity for the Jazz, a team that left 11 points at the free throw line. Hayward went 10/11. He’s not to blame. But George Hill and Joe Johnson went 7/12. Rudy Gobert went 5/10 but that’s not his game.
Sadly, he may not even play in Game 7 as he turned his left ankle and couldn’t finish this one. He would end it with just 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 50% shooting. He is a big part of the Jazz winning Games 4 and 5. If he’s not there for Game 7 that would suck. DeAndre Jordan really took advantage of Rudy not being there, and had 13 and 18, but went 3/11 form the line and had 7 turn overs.
I don’t know who won this marquee match-up. But it wasn’t pretty.
I don’t know if Utah is going to continue shooting poorly from the line and from downtown (7/26 in this one), but if they do - advancing is going to be that much harder. Gordon Hayward (31 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals) was engaged in this one, and George Hill (22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block) was as well. They both are free agents after this season.
See you all on Sunday.