With under a minute to go in the third period, the Clippers held a six point lead in a building in which they've won one game in close to two decades. What's more, they were beating Utah's starters in the third quarter, and Utah's bench is pretty thin. The game seemed well within reach, against a Jazz team missing one starter and two key reserves from last year's edition.
Just to overstate the case, that's 35 minutes of basketball to that point, and the Clippers were ahead 84-78. But it turns out, a basketball game is 48 minutes long, and over the next 13 minutes LA was outscored 33-14, including 15 in a row spanning a portion of the third and fourth, and the ended up losing 111-98. To make matters worse, most of the run came with Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer on the bench. In the first half, when those guys went out the Clippers reserves took advantage of them. This time around, it was a different story. And the story was Paul Millsap.
It all just seems so familiar. Here's an excerpt from the recap I wrote after game four last season, a loss to these self same Jazz.
The Clippers and Jazz were tied at 57 with 2 minutes to go in the third. In the final 14 minutes, they were outscored 32-16, and Millsap alone accounted for 17 of them, including 15 in a row in the fourth. He outscored the Clippers by himself in the final period, 15-13.
Paul Millsap is unstoppable.
The real question is, why did no one pay this guy more than 4/$32M this summer? I mean, I'm being a little facetious, but against the Clippers over the past two seasons, he has been, without exaggeration, the best player on the court, by a pretty wide margin. He's been an all pro against the Clippers. His follow shot and-one with a second to go in the third was the turning point tonight. The Clippers' lead had been four - he cut it to one, and then made the first basket of the fourth quarter as the Jazz took the lead, never to trail again.
You can bet that MDsr and his coaching staff are going to be fuming about the rebounding after this game. Overall, the Clippers were outrebounded by 13, 48 to 35, and 12 to 3 on the offensive glass. For a large portion of the fourth, the listedatbutnotreally 6'8" Millsap was being defended by 7 foot Chris Kaman - and Millsap constantly got to offensive boards against him. Kaman may have had a good game on offense, with 21 points on 8 for 12 shooting, but he had only 4 rebounds, and that's not acceptable. It shows a lack of effort.
Anyway, it's late, I'm tired, and I still have to write a preview for the Mavericks game tomorrow night. The Clippers are 0-3 to start the year. And it feels like we've been here before, and it's not good place.