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Clippers Drop Another at Home, Lose 129-109 to Jazz

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The Clippers’ defense was awful, and the starters continue to struggle.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Summary:

The Clippers were playing from behind basically the whole game, finishing the first quarter down nine. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was active early, making 3 of his 5 first quarter shots and leading the Clippers in scoring through the first frame with six. The Jazz had more to hang their hat on, as they collectively shot 50% from the field and had earned 7 free throw attempts to the Clippers’ zero. The free throw discrepancy was a constant issue throughout the game and I can attest that the home crowd was very frustrated with what felt like uneven calls. Later in the game, in fact, Doc Rivers got a technical while wasting the majority of a timeout yelling at referees.

The Clippers won the second quarter — the only quarter they took. This was largely because Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams, as usual, were able to get to work right away. They ended the half with eighteen points combined on 9 for 16 shooting. They weren’t alone, though: At the end of the half, the whole starting unit had a negative plus-minus, while nearly every player off the bench was “in the black.” The lack of free throw shooting, though, was still a huge problem, as Sindarius Thornwell was the only player to earn a trip to the line for the Clippers in the first half. In fact, the Clippers had made one more field goals and had the same amount of three pointers as the Jazz at halftime, but the Jazz had made nine more free throws (11 for 13).

During the second half, the Jazz basically held the Clippers at arm’s length until Doc had to empty the bench. Donovan Mitchell, who scored 14 points in each half, was able to get to the rim consistently; meanwhile, the Clippers were extremely tentative in the paint — clearly intimidated by Rudy Gobert. But instead of playing downhill and getting fouled like the Jazz, the Clippers played Hot Potato with the ball, never finding a rhythm on the offensive end. The Clippers ended the game attempting fewer than HALF the Jazz MADE free throws (Clippers were 9/14 and the Jazz were 30/37 from the free throw line).

Notes:

  • The Clippers made one more field goal, one fewer three-pointer, and still lost by 20 points: Doc Rivers, after the game, commented: “[The Utah Jazz] attacked more, I did think we drove too. I don’t know what [Danilo Gallinari] has to do to get a foul, but he is not getting them.”
  • Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari were a combined 9/28 from the field (32%): Gallinari looked very hesitant around the rim, opting to shoot fade-aways instead of attacking the basket. Tobias hit three threes, but never looked comfortable or dominate. After the game, Harrell told the media, “We were nonexistent tonight, simple as that.” If I may edit his statement, I would narrow his criticism down to Gallo and Harris.
  • Lou Williams scored 23 points on 11 for 18 shooting: And he was the only Clipper who looked willing to enter the paint with confidence. Twice, he scored over Jazz defenders, absorbing contact but finishing strong at the rim. Who would have thought that the smallest guy on the court would be the only one willing to go at Gobert?