Lou Williams: 24 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds
JaMychal Green: 23 points, 8 rebounds, 5 made threes
Montrezl Harrell: 10 points, 2 rebounds
Ivica Zubac: 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks
I don’t think any Clippers fan had high hopes going into this one. When it was announced that Kawhi Leonard would be taking his first “load management” game, the first of a back to back against difficult Western Conference opponents, it was pretty much known that this would be a schedule loss for the Clips. LA, without Kawhi or PG are talented sure, but truly don’t have enough players that can go get you a bucket consistently to compete with a Jazz team that will be in the top half of the West this season.
Surprisingly, it didn’t really look all that bad in the first half. The Clips started perennial 6MOY winner Lou Williams, only his second start in the last two seasons, who started off hot. Hitting from everywhere when the Clips really needed it. He also showed some nice chemistry in the PnR with Ivica Zubac. Zu was really the star of the first and second quarter as he was finishing well around the rim, hit a 15 footer, was rebounding well and stuffed a few. He finished the half with eight points and seven rebounds. He’s showing great progress and is a great improvement on the defensive end compared to other Clipper bigs.
Some unfamiliar, early minute, faces made appearances as Rodney McGruder and Jerome Robinson got early burn. Both looked out of sorts though and finished with a combined -21 +/-. While Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Robert, Joe Ingles and others were getting some nice buckets, the Clips were responding, even with Montrezl Harrell getting in early foul trouble. Lou finished with 16 first half points, JaMychal Green had nine and the Clips showed life late to the tune of a one point deficit at halftime.
The third is where the game opened up for the Jazz after Mike Conley scored 10 straight points and the Jazz started the period going 13-of-15 from the field. The writing was quickly on the wall. They ended up going on a huge run and never looking back. The Clippers were forcing bad shots, the Jazz couldn’t miss, the Clippers couldn’t get in a rhythm on either end of the floor and it ended with the Jazz taking a commanding 19 point lead 90-71. Easily the worst quarter of the Clippers short season and (hopefully) it will stay that way. The Clips can’t afford to lose big quarters like that, even in a Kawhi load management game.
The fourth was more going through the motions than anything. The shots fell a little bit, but of course not enough, the Jazz kept scoring and I had already started writing this mid-way through. It was cool to see Terance Mann play a good amount of minutes late. It was nice to see Green continue to be a sharpshooter and hit a few deep balls. The zone was nifty. They went on a little run to cut the lead to 10 at one point, with Jerome showing some life, but it was all for not. Granted, this was a team that was seriously devoid of go-to scoring outside of Lou and will be a game that will surely be forgotten by all involved by tomorrow.
The debut of Rodney was brutal: McGruder finished with a game low -19 +/-, missed all of his shots and generally looked out of sorts on the both ends of the floor. It’s semi expected, as he hasn’t played in an NBA game since early April of last season, but still disheartening as he could have had a good impact in this type of game.
The Clips can’t consistently be this bad in Kawhi load management games: This won’t be the first time that the Clips are without Kawhi and PG. Getting blown out looks bad and doesn’t improve anyone's game. The have to be able to find the will to compete without their best players and find some other ways to score outside of the big three/four.
Landry disappears again: Landry has been more streaky than consistent so far this season. This was the case in the preseason and despite a good shooting game against the lowly Hornets, Landry has been bricking. Tonight he shot just 1-for-7 from the field and was 0-of-3 from three. Gotta get him going more and he absolutely has to get back to his rookie shooting numbers.
Play Zubac more: I honestly never thought I’d be saying this this early in the season, but Doc has to play Zu more. He’s a monster at the rim defensively, has improved his hands and pick-and-roll prowess and will keep improving throughout the season. Unsurprisingly (if you watched the game) he was the only starter with a positive +/-.
Why can’t the Jazz suck against the Clippers?: Of course Mike Conley and Joe Ingles magically start shooting well against the Clips. OF COURSE. Also remember when Grayson Allen had 40 against LA last year and almost singlehandedly beat them? I hate the Jazz.