This was one of those games that was a little bit closer than the final score indicated, and one that had all the marks of turning out very badly for the home team.
The Clippers got off to a hot start in the first half, and wasted no time getting the lid off the rim. They started hitting shots from beyond the arc (a welcome sight), and were able to surpass the Jazz defense altogether by simply throwing lobs over it (six of DeAndre Jordan's eight points came from lobs in the first half — and the last pair was a breakaway slam in the third). As a unit, the Clippers shot 43% from deep. The true star from distance tonight wound up being Reggie Bullock, of all people. Doc Rivers elected to give Chris Douglas-Roberts a bit of the old DNP-CD, and Bullock took full advantage. In his 18 minutes off the bench, he shot 4-6 from three point range and finished with 12 points.
But the Clippers had another one of those patented Clipper third quarters, allowing the Jazz to go on a 13-0 run to take the lead. Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter gave the Clippers defensive fits tonight, proving that not all of the issues on that end of the floor are solved for the Clips. They were out-rebounded by their opponent once again, with the Jazz getting frequent second and sometimes third looks at the hoop. Hayward finished with 27 and 7, while Kanter managed 17 and 9.
But luckily for the Clippers, Jamal Crawford returned from his one-game hiatus to score 19 off the bench in typical Crawford "oh no, what is he doing, I can't believe that shot went in" fashion. And tonight, he surpassed the 15,000 point mark, making him one of only 21 active players to accomplish the feat. Here's to 15,000 (or so) more!
Chris Paul secured his first triple double since the 2011 postseason tonight, with a line of 13 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. With help from Blake Griffin's 31 points on 66% shooting and a couple of much-needed defensive stands, the Clippers managed to hold off the Jazz in the end.
There is a lot of good to take away from this game for the Clippers: they're 3-1, finally had a good night of shooting, Jamal Crawford is healthy and Chris Paul has shown no ill effects after tweaking his foot against Sacramento. But the bad news is, the Clips still suffered a major third quarter slump that gave the Jazz the opportunity to get back in and perhaps take the game. That kind of sluggishness will find you in a big hole really quickly against a team like the Golden State Warriors, who — well would you look at that? — the Clippers play on Wednesday in Oakland.