With possession of the West’s fourth seed at stake, the Utah Jazz could muster little more than sour notes, falling flat in a 88-72 loss at home.
The Clippers played a solid-to-good-game, but B+ play doesn’t usually earn you a casual 16-point victory on the road, particularly in Utah. Jazz star Gordon Hayward, less than a week away from his well-earned All-Star debut, looked anything but tonight. The sneakily athletic wing was hassled by Luc Mbah a Moute into a meager 7-point, 0-assist performance. Hayward missed 10 of his 12 field goals, and five of his six three-point tries.
LA’s defense, which had dropped to 15th in efficiency before the game, looked sharper than in recent weeks. The Clippers played intelligently, maintaining good position and rotating with purpose. Ralph Lawler and Mike Smith mentioned several times that Utah Head Coach Quin Snyder praised DeAndre Jordan’s intelligence — something he also did in 2015 -- particularly the center’s ability to
steal recognize Jazz playcalls.
DeAndre, who many believe was unfairly awarded an All-Star spot ahead of Utah’s Rudy Gobert, largely outplayed his Jazz counterpart. Doc Rivers fed his big man with several first half post-ups, and DeAndre answered the call with a tidy 10 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks on 5-of-7 shooting. Gobert countered with 10 points an 14 rebounds, eight of which were on offense, but missed 7 of his 12 shots, several of which were defended closely at the rim.
For their part, the Jazz didn’t make themselves difficult to defend. Without the threat of the three-pointer (4-of-23), Utah’s offense stagnated, and Quin Snyder shuffled through lineup options in a desperate attempt to breathe some life into his team. 12 players took the floor for Utah tonight, even deep reserves Trey Lyles, Raul Neto, and Jeff Withey, who, for their part, keyed a fourth-quarter run to put a short-lived scare into the Clippers.
The Jazz converted only 32% of their field goal attempts and managed just three double-digit scorers. Derrick Favors led Utah with 13 points, with Gobert and Exum each adding 10. George Hill and Lyles combined to miss 18 of their combined 20 shots.
For the Clippers, Blake Griffin followed up his NBA player-of-the-week performance with 26/10/6 and heady play all over the court, particularly in the Clippers’ 31-15 third quarter that blew a comfortable game completely open. Austin Rivers nailed three from deep, scoring 15 total, and Jamal Crawford added 11 in 22 minutes.
- Per Prime Ticket, the Clippers earned their ninth straight victory over the Jazz. LA has now taken 17 of its last 18 against Utah.
- Every Clipper starter finished +23 or better. Derrick Favors was the only Utah player to finish minus single-digits, and he avoided a gaudier number by being benched for the floor-spacing Boris Diaw for much of Utah’s disastrous third quarter. George Hill trailed everyone with a -31 in 26 minutes.