The Utah Jazz’s early going has been monopolized by Los Angeles. Twenty-four hours after garnering a 34-point victory over the Lakers, the Jazz did not fare as well against the Clippers, falling short in a hard-fought 96-94 loss Wednesday evening.
With a mix of outside shooting, highlight-reel dunks, clutch plays, fiery exchanges and uncharacteristic intensity, the tilt between the Jazz and Clippers mirrored more a regular-season outing than one of the preseason variety.
While he missed the potential game-winner, Randy Foye paced the Jazz with 17 points. Sophomore Alec Burks chipped in 14. For Los Angeles, Blake Griffin led the way with 24 points, followed by new Clipper Jamal Crawford’s 18.
Tough Third: Utah showed some fatigue in the back end of their back-to-back, particularly on the offensive side of things. While Tuesday’s effort carried over into the first half, that faded severely in the third quarter.
While their execution had some rough edges, the Jazz were still getting the shots they wanted early on, particularly in the second quarter. The result was a 48-34 lead at the break.
The third was quite the opposite, as there seemed to be a lid on the basket. There was little movement or flow, and instead of the crisp passing and attacking of the basket, the starters had a few too many isolation plays that resulted in forced shots. Conversely, the Clippers dominated on both ends and won the quarter 34-16. That proved to be Utah’s downfall.
When it was all said and done, the Jazz shot just 40.7 percent from the floor but managed to connect on 8 of 18 three-point attempts (44.4 percent).
No Love Lost: Utah forward Paul Millsap and Clippers All-Star Griffin have already had some testy battles in their young matchups. Wednesday proved to be yet another emotional tangle. The two were seen exchanging words throughout the night. There were some hard fouls, stare-downs, and even a technical levied to Griffin.
The Play of the Night: With Derrick Favors sitting this one out, third-year man Jeremy Evans absorbed some extra playing time. He made the most of it, finishing with six points (a perfect 3-3 from the field), four rebounds and four blocked shots. But it was one play that left the greatest impression.
In the second quarter, Clippers forward Rony Turiaf went up for a 17-foot jump shot. Evans quickly recovered, emphatically swatting the shot. He grabbed his ball on the run and, jumping from a good distance, flushed down a contested dunk. The Jazz bench leapt to their feet in response to a play that will be seen repeatedly over the next few days.
The underrated aspect of it all: After the dunk, Evans got back down the court to deflect a pass.
- None of the free agents saw the court Wednesday night, which could be an unwelcome omen for the quartet of Brian Butch, Trey Gilder, Darnell Jackson and Chris Quinn.
- Notoriously poor free-throw shooter DeAndre Jordan lived up to his billing, hitting just 2 of his 10 first attempts before hitting his final three shots.
- Utah had 17 turnovers to just 20 assists.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. 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.