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Defenseless Clippers Fall to the Jazz 125-113

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Win Streak Snapped at Six in Surprisingly Bad Game for Los Angeles

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

That. Was. Painful.

The struggling Utah Jazz pulled off a surprising 125-113 win over the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday, despite having played a hard fought game against the New York Knicks less than 24-hours earlier. The Jazz, who should have been the more sluggish squad in the match up, out hustled the Clippers and pounded them in the paint, to earn the win.

Here is how it went down.

First Quarter

The Clippers started the game with it’s 21st starting lineup of the season: Tyrone Wallace, Blake Griffin, Milos Teodosic, Willie Reed, and Lou Williams.

Utah started Joe Ingles, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio.

Los Angeles started off slow, and intensity was lacking. Utah controlled the pace. The Jazz took an early lead - one that they never relinquished - and were up 22-14 before Doc Rivers called his first time out to talk things over.

Mid-quarter, reserves Wes Johnson, Jawun Evans and Montrezl Harrell made appearances. All three provided spark off the bench, but overall the Clippers’ performance remained lackluster. As a team they had difficulty establishing an offensive rhythm, but more importantly, defense was non-existent.

Notably, Johnson had eight points in the quarter. After suffering a left foot injury in December, Wes struggled a bit, particularly on offense. Since moving from a starting position to the Clippers’ second unit he has been more productive; in his last five games he has averaged 13.8 points and 5 rebounds per game. Great to see him improving.

Griffin was also a relative bright spot for the Clippers in the first quarter, hitting two from beyond the arc.

By the end of the first, the Clippers found themselves trailing the Jazz 39-29. The Jazz shot 58 percent from the field on 3- 7 shooting, while the Clippers shot 46 percent on 5-9 shooting. The Jazz dominated in the paint, outscoring the Clippers 18 to 6, and also outscored visiting Los Angeles 9-0 in fast break points.

Second Quarter

The Clippers’ defensive difficulties continued in the second quarter, with the Jazz capitalizing on slow rotations and poor lateral movement. Too many uncontested shots and points in transition, and baseline drives were available to whomever wanted one. I mean seriously, what is this?

That kind of defense does NOT win games.

By the end of the half, the Clippers had given up 76 points and trailed the Jazz by 17. Not what ANYONE expected. Coming into Saturday’s game the Jazz was the 21st ranked offense in the NBA, averaging only 101.3 points per game. It was bad. Very bad.

Utah’s 76 points is the most given up in a half by the Clippers this season. In fact, it is the most given up by the Clippers in any half since 2009.

Stats at the Half

The Jazz shot an impressive 63 percent from the field in the first half, as compared to the Clippers’ 42 percent. Both teams shot well from the line, Los Angeles went 15-17 and Utah went 10-11.

DeAndre Jordan was sorely missed by Los Angeles; the the Jazz out-rebounded the Clippers 31-16, and dominated them in the paint 34-18. Anyone who is advocating for the Clippers to trade DJ right now, stop it. Really. Just stop it.

Fast break points also favored the Jazz, 14 to 2.

Williams led the way for the Clippers with 12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. Griffin had 10 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist. Johnson also had 10 points, along with 2 rebounds.

Favors led all scorers with 14 points and 5 rebounds for the Jazz. Ingles added 13 points.

Third Quarter

The Clippers entered the third quarter with its starting lineup. Early turnovers prevented an immediate comeback, and the Jazz went on an 12-2 run to extend lead to 25.

The Clippers then started digging in a bit on defense, and went on an 11-1 run to cut the lead to 15 with just over three minutes left in the quarter.

Despite the Clippers showing some signs of life, the Jazz were able to maintain their lead of 17 through the third frame, seemingly able to take advantage of every Clipper missed opportunity. Los Angeles entered the final quarter trailing Utah 104-87.

Fourth Quarter

The Clippers made a valiant run at the beginning of the fourth. A long three from Williams cut the deficit to 11.

Two subsequent free throws from Harrell cut lead to 9.

Speaking of Harrell, am I the only one that thinks the Clippers made a huge mistake by not going inside to Harrell more, particularly when Gobert was on the bench?

Harrell has been very good and efficient down low, and the Clippers did not take advantage of that at all, even when not shooting particularly well from the outside.

With just under two minutes left remaining the Clippers had clawed their way back, and trailed by just seven. However, a careless pass by Teodosic that resulted in a steal and easy bucket by Utah rookie Donovan extended the Jazz lead to nine again.

A follow up three-pointer by Teodosic gave the Clippers hope, but an ill-timed and unnecessary foul by Wallace resulted in a freebie from the line by Mitchell. Williams had a long ball deflected by Gobert on the Clippers’ next possession, and the ball was back in Utah’s hands. Rubio tossed the ball in to Gobert for a slam dunk, sealing the Clippers fate.

Final Score: 125 – 113. With the win, the Jazz improve to 19-27, and break the Clippers 6-game winning streak. The Clippers fall to 23-22 for the season.

Final Clipper stats:

Mitchell scored a team high 23 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 7 assists for the Jazz. Ingles also excelled, hitting 5 three-pointers and tying his career high of 21 points. In his second game back from injury, Gobert posted 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in 28 minutes. Rubio was also solid, with 12 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Lou Williams - Record Breaker

In the fourth quarter, Lou Williams broke the Clippers franchise high for steals in a game, recording 10. Coach Doc Rivers previously held the franchise record, recording 9 steals on November 6, 1991 in a 111-87 Clipper win over the Phoenix Suns (many are mistakenly reporting Doc’s record setting game as having also been against the Utah Jazz, it was actually against the Suns).

Sweet Lou also became the first player since Michael Jordan to have a 30+ point and 10 steal game. He finished the game with 31 points 10 steals, continuing his all-star level of play.

In a post-game interview Doc joked that he’d be benching Williams next game for breaking his record. Yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen.

Next Up: The Clippers host the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on Monday, January 22, 2017 at 7:30 PM PT.