Utah Jazz report card: Clippers pick-and-roll offense burns Jazz in first home loss
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz home winning streak came to an abrupt end Monday night at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers led only four times the entire game — the short-handed Jazz led for a majority of the game — but the fourth time was all that was necessary as Blake Griffin scored 30 points to lead the Clippers over the Jazz, 105-104. The Jazz gave a hard-fought effort to win the game and Randy Foye had a chance at a winning shot, but it was too little too late.
Guards: Mo Williams finished with a double-double on 20 points and 12 assists. What is most encouraging about Williams' performance was his improved shot selection and the reduction in his need to throw up questionable shots early in the play clock. Foye finished with 19 points and did just about everything possible offensively. Trying to stop Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups proved a difficult task for the front court, especially in the final three to four minutes of the game. Jamaal Tinsley did not see any minutes while Earl Watson and Alec Burks were mostly ineffective. It was a positive to see Gordon Hayward play again. It was equally puzzling when head coach Tyrone Corbin took him out of the game with six minutes to play.
Forwards: With Marvin Williams still out after taking a nasty spill during a road game at New Orleans, DeMarre Carroll got to start and seemed to be the only player effective in guarding Paul. No Derrick Favors meant less of a defensive presence in the post for the Jazz. Paul Millsap was the only true power forward in the lineup and played well with 13 points and eight rebounds. Millsap was forced to pick and choose how to defend Griffin as he found himself in early foul trouble.
Centers: Al Jefferson finished with his usual double-double, but DeAndre Jordan got the best of Jefferson as he swatted away an 8-foot floater in the lane which would have tied the game at 101-all. Enes Kanter did as much as he could in 17 minutes of play. The Jazz allowed 56 points in the paint, but the fault lies with the entire team and not just one position.
Bench: A depleted roster meant a depleted point production for Utah. Whether Marvin Williams and Favors would have started or not, it would have made a difference in the bench production. Hayward scored 17 points off the bench and no one else reached double-figure scoring. Burks and Watson did not score off the bench, while Jeremy Evans logged six points in 12 minutes of action.
Overall: Utah's pick-and-roll defense was terrible all night and the Clippers made sure to exploit the weakness. The Jazz led by as much as 14 and had no business losing this game. The absence of Favors in the post on defense hurt as Griffin and the rest of Los Angeles had their way in the paint. The Jazz had no answer for Griffin down low or on any shot that was a product of the pick and roll. There were moments of good defense, but nothing consistent enough to win a game. It may have been a carryover from the Houston Rockets game, but the Jazz must take advantage of home games as they haven't quite figured out how to string together wins on the road.
Tyler Huskinson is a freelance journalist who loves to cover sports. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @TDHuskiSports.
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