Before Sunday's preseason contest against Portland, Doc Rivers promised plenty of rest for the starters tonight in Utah. That seemed to be the way things would go, with the pregame announcement that Matt Barnes and reigning Sixth Man Jamal Crawford would sit out tonight's game for rest. But those two healthy scratches were just about the only rest the Clippers big-minute guys saw; Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Blake Griffin each played 30 minutes.
CDR had his turn to audition to start at the 3-spot tonight, but didn't do much to help his cause. He went 1-5 from the field and 0-3 from deep and scored only 4 points in a team-high 31 minutes of play. Still, Doc seems to be leaning toward sitting Barnes to play with the second unit, so it looks like this guy might be the team's starting small forward when the real action starts in two and a half weeks. Reggie Bullock served as the backup small forward tonight, but failed to get the ball through the net once in his 16 minutes.
J.J. Redick's offensive game was one of a few bright spots for the Clippers. He scored 17 points off some of nice mid-range jumpers (and you thought that was a lost art), and hit one of the two 3-pointers he attempted. He looked comfortable dishing the ball in the paint too, with a nice bounce-pass to DeAndre Jordan for the dunk-and-one highlighting his 3 assists. Chris Paul is still struggling to find his shot, going just 4-13, but he managed to dish out 11 assists.
Blake Griffin was the brightest star in the sky tonight, though. He scored 15 of the Clippers total 17 points in the second quarter and finished with a game-high 31. His jump shot was looking back to versus-Warriors form, though he missed both 3s he attempted. But now that defenders have to respect his pump fake, it looks to be fairly easy for Blake to get to the rim, and you already know how he likes to finish.
Worth noting is that everybody's favorite Australian Joe Ingles finally got some burn, and he hit his only shot, a 3-ball, in 5 minutes of play. Jared Cunningham barely got in the action too, but couldn't hit either of his attempts and finished with a point. Rookie C.J. Wilcox is a Salt Lake City native and scored his first (and only) NBA point in 16 minutes of play tonight.
But yet again, the Clippers defensive effort left a lot to be desired.
The Jazz made the Clippers pay from beyond the arc, shooting 46.7% and obtaining a good number of wide-open looks. Trey Burke led Utah with 16 points, and his team shot a nice 50% overall. They also killed the Clippers on the boards, 55-32, with Rudy Gobert snagging 20.
If you're looking at the preseason as an indicator of how the regular season is going to turn out, well, look away. I doubt the Clippers preseason woes will translate to real basketball, and the effort will come when the wins matter. Nevertheless, the Clippers still have some defensive kinks to work out, and will have a chance to do so at home this Friday against this same Jazz team.