Previous tries by the Jazz this month to beat the mighty Los Angeles Clippers (no, not an oxymoron) fell short. But this one, a double-digit loss, was the least noble of the three.
GUARDS: Jamaal Tinsley was reasonably solid offensively (eight points on 3-of-7 shooting) and defensively (two steals). But his 11 assists were at least somewhat offset by five turnovers, and his opponent, Chris Paul, was better with 19 points and five steals, with just two turnovers against nine assists. Tinsley's turnover count was his highest of the season.
Given that Randy Foye was 2 of 2 from distance but just 3-of-8 overall, perhaps he should just shoot more 3-pointers. He'll need to stay out of foul trouble to accomplish that goal, too: his five fouls probably cut his playing time (28 minutes) a bit short. Clipper guard Willie Green may have been largely a non-factor in 16 minutes, but Jamal Crawford (19 points, 2 steals) certainly wasn't in almost twice as much time. GRADE: D+.
FORWARDS: Paul Millsap (9 points on 2-of-7 shooting, 20 minutes) turned in one of his worst outings of the season. He hadn't shot so poorly in five games — and he had shot 40 percent or better in three of four contests before Sunday. At least Blake Griffin (7 points, 7 rebounds) didn't do as much damage as expected. His own foul trouble (five fouls) limited him to just 26 minutes. And Derrick Favors (11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) did his part to help make up for Millsap's poor play, getting nine more minutes than the veteran starter as a result.
With eight rebounds in just 25 minutes, DeMarre Carroll played admirably in place of Marvin Williams — at least, on the glass. Los Angeles' Caron Butler (29 points on 10-of-14 shooting) could hardly be stopped in less than 25 minutes. GRADE: C-.
CENTERS: The way Al Jefferson (30 points on 13-of-22 shooting, 8 rebounds) played, he should have seen, yes, even more shot attempts — which probably would have happened if he'd played more than 33-plus minutes. Tyrone Corbin probably has a rotation to stick to, but Enes Kanter hardly did more than pick up three fouls in just 13 minutes. Big Al notched a season-high in scoring Sunday.
Unfortunately, Clipper starting center DeAndre Jordan (14 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks) was effective in the time (30 minutes) and touches given. He scored nearly five points above his season average. GRADE: B-.
BENCH: The two benches tied at 33 points apiece. Favors was the only Utah reserve who shot better than 33 percent from the field. Swingman Gordon Hayward led the struggle with a 5-of-15 shooting display, though he made all five of his free-throw attempts — a big deal considering he had shot just 1 of 4 from the charity stripe two games earlier in a holiday cheer-less home loss against Golden State. Hayward has also made one-third or less of his field-goal attempts in three of the past six games.
Crawford did the most significant damage among Los Angeles' reserves, though Matt Barnes was a cool 3 of 4 with four rebounds in 26 minutes. GRADE: C.
OVERALL: The Clippers are good, and Utah was without Marvin Williams (not to mention the other M-Will, Mo.) But how much have the Jazz really needed the former this season? He has proved thus far to be a hardly fruitful transaction for Utah. The bigger issue Sunday night was that the Jazz once again displayed incohesiveness. Their 17 turnovers and 41 percent shooting — compared to Los Angeles' 12 and 50 percent, respectively — testify to that reality on both ends of the floor. GRADE: C.
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. A Deseret News editorial intern, can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @wilklogan
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