With the national television spotlights shining on them, the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers put on a show. In an exhilarating game of runs and highlight plays, the Clippers did just enough to nip the Jazz 107-105. It was Los Angeles’ first victory in Salt Lake City since 2003.
Chris Paul had one of his best performances against the Jazz, controlling things for L.A. throughout. He finished with 34 points and 11 assists. Blake Griffin, who may have had a dunk of some sorts versus Oklahoma City the other night, added 31 points and 14 rebounds.
Al Jefferson, returning after missing the last outing, threw in 27 points — 18 in the first half. Four others scored in double figures.
Fantastic first: In front of an ESPN audience, Los Angeles and Utah put on a show in the first 12 minutes — lots of offense and very little defense. Plus, there were plenty of lobs, dunks, fast breaks and great inside moves spread around.
The visiting Clippers shot a scintillating 13 for 23 from the field (56.5 percent) while also draining three trifectas in six tries. Their five first-made field goals were dunks — four by Griffin. L.A.'s dynamic duo lived up to the billing, with Griffin tallying 14 points and four rebounds, while Chris Paul added 12 points and six assists. This helped the team to an early 32-29 lead.
Not to be outdone, the Jazz hit a sizzling 13 of 22 field goal attempts (59.1 percent). Al Jefferson, showing no adverse effects from his recent injuries, had 10 points, while Derrick Favors scored a quick six after coming into the game.
Super second: The second quarter was just as frantic and entertaining. The Jazz did not skip a beat offensively, making their first seven shots en route to a 15-2 run. The second stanza saw Utah going 14 for 22 from the floor (63.6 percent).
On the flip side, the Clippers redeemed themselves from their early struggles in the quarter, going on an 8-0 run and keeping it a two-point game, thanks to a masterful half by their stars.
Frantic fourth: It was a tale of ties, runs and big plays by both teams. After a scratch in the third (16-16), the fourth quarter turned out to be a high-scoring, exciting finish, with the Clippers winning the quarter 35-31, and of course, the game. Some keys:
- Despite getting his fifth foul with five minutes remaining, Blake Griffin managed to stay in the game.
- Losing Earl Watson really hurt the Jazz. He typically plays a majority of the fourth-quarter minutes, orchestrating some big victories in doing so.
- Tyrone Corbin went with third point guard Jamaal Tinsley, pairing him with Devin Harris for seven minutes. The Jazz were -8 during that span.
- The Clippers crashed the boards, winning the rebounding battle 50-35. They snatched some crucial offensive rebounds in the final minutes, including one by the smallest player on the court, Paul.
- Free throws, as was the case in the recent Toronto loss, came back to haunt Utah. While the team did much better in the second half, missing 10 free throws was damaging.
- At one point, Derrick Favors, who entered the game shooting a mere 63 percent from the free-throw line, was 6 of 6, while the rest of the team was 5 of 12 from the charity stripe.
- Griffin and Paul combined to score 61 percent of the Clippers’ total.
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.