It’s a new year, and the Clippers still have the same problems with the Utah Jazz.
The Clippers came into the game having losing seven of their last 10 against the Jazz over the last three seasons. Their struggles continued in a 106-102 loss in Utah as L.A. falls to 4-2 on the season.
Clipper killers Mike Conley Jr. and Derrick Favors led the way on offense for the Jazz. Conley had 33 points and seven assists, and Favors added 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. meanwhile, Rudy Gobert spearheaded a strong defensive effort.
The first three quarters were nothing short of a disaster for the Clippers. They shot 10-of-32 in the paint due to some excellent rim protection from Gobert. That might have been tenable had the been able to generate good looks from three, but the Clippers only shot 9-of-22 from 3-point range before the fourth quarter.
Every time the Clippers tried to make a run, the Jazz had an answer. Utah closed the first three quarters by outscoring the Clippers by six, six, and four over the final two minutes of each period.
Utah has ended quarters very well tonight.— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) January 2, 2021
Last two minutes, Q1: Utah +6
Last two minutes, Q2: Utah +6
Last two minutes, Q3: Utah +4
The Clippers deficit ballooned to 20 in the third quarter and was 19 in the third, but they kept fighting back. Lou Williams got the offense rolling early with some Ivica Zubac pick-and-rolls. Nic Batum earned a couple of three-shot fouls with some guile on the perimeter, and Paul George got cooking from behind the arc as well.
The key, though, was the defense down the stretch. The Clippers finally started to communicate on that end of the floor and rotated on a string. They forced multiple shots late in the clock and contested the looks the Clippers did get. They got as close as one with three minutes to play, but couldn’t tie or take the lead.
It was a nice effort to make a game of it late, but the Clippers weren’t good enough for the majority of the night to deserve the win.