The Clippers lost to the Jazz by a score of 105-98. It was a close game all night, with neither team able to pull away from the other for very long. The Clippers were up 87-80 midway through the 4th quarter, but it was the Joe Johnson show from there, as he scored 11 consecutive points and then found other players for 4 consecutive assists when the Clippers started doubling.
The Clippers were led by Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul tonight: Jamal the hot shooter, and Paul the game manger. Jamal in particular made huge shots whenever the Clippers’ offense bogged down, carrying them while Paul was out of the game for rest. Crawford ended up with 25 points on 9-13 shooting, but two of those missed shots were crucial ones late, as he disappeared the last few minutes of the game. Paul had a near triple double with 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 12 assists, but he too was ineffective down the stretch.
DeAndre Jordan didn’t look quite right in this one. It could be that he is starting to get fatigued from heavy minutes. Or maybe his asthma is acting up due to the altitude. But either way, he was thoroughly outplayed by Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert all night, and didn’t have any bounce to his step. JJ Redick was finally able to spring free in this game, taking 11 shots, but he only made 3, and was rushing all night long. He was also a real minus on the defensive end. After three spectacular games, Luc Mbah a Moute finally slipped a bit in this one. His defense was terrific as ever, but he only shot 1-8 from the floor, and he really hesitated to shoot at times.
The best news rotation wise is after playing 12 excruciating 1st half minutes, Paul Pierce didn’t see the floor in the 2nd. He was actually +7 while on the court, but that mostly had to do with playing alongside the scorching hot Crawford. Wes Johnson took his minutes in the 2nd half, and played better than Pierce, though he basically just checked in to give Luc a quick breather.
For the Jazz, Rudy Gobert played well in his return, though his presence was mitigated by the absence of Gordon Hayward, who was sick with a stomach virus. Joe Johnson killed the Clippers in the post, just as he has all series. It’s hard to believe that he’s been this effective, but he has. He won the Jazz the game down the stretch, picking the Clippers apart in 1v1, and then with his passing once they started doubling. He had 28 points on 12-17 shooting, as well as 5 rebounds and 5 assists. It was a remarkable performance by the 7-time All Star. He was aided by some timely contributions from Rodney Hood (18 points) and Joe Ingles (2 huge threes down the stretch). Ingles also set a career high with 11 assists, getting wherever he wanted on the pick and roll.
Adithya will have the recap up in a bit. This series isn’t over, but Gobert’s return makes a Clippers’ victory that much more difficult. Go Clippers!