They had too many points in the paint early on and kind of dictated what we were doing instead of the opposite. —Gordon Hayward
SALT LAKE CITY — A recurring theme for the Utah Jazz in games against the Los Angeles Clippers this season has been slow starts.
In the two playoff games as well as the final regular-season game between the two in late March, the Jazz have started slowly, making just one field goal in the opening four minutes of each game and digging themselves a hole.
The Jazz were able to overcome the slow start in Game 1 when after falling behind 7-2 in the opening minutes and trailing after one quarter, they rallied to win 97-95. But in Game 2, they fell behind 11-3, 21-11 and trailed 29-18 after the first quarter before outscoring the Clippers the rest of the way. In the March game, the Jazz trailed 28-14 after the first quarter, came back to tie the game but eventually lost by 13.
It’s a problem the Jazz are well aware of and one they talked about after Friday’s shootaround, prior to the 8 p.m. game against the Clippers at Vivint Arena.
“That’s an important thing,” said Quin Snyder of the slow starts. “We’ve got to take care of the ball and eliminate offensive rebounds. Mistakes are capitalized on. It’s hard because then you’re playing uphill. That’s something we’ve got to do a better job of.”
Boris Diaw and Gordon Hayward both noted that the team has discussed the issue and know they need to correct the problem.
“Coach pointed out, pretty much every game against them this season, we’ve had a bad start in the first three minutes,” said Diaw. “We’re looking at different things we can do as far as being focused from the get-go and make it hard in the first minutes of the game It’s definitely a point of emphasis from the last game.”
Hayward pointed out that the Jazz were “just fine” the final three quarters when they outscored the Clippers, but the start killed them Tuesday night.
“They really have jumped on us early in both games,” said Hayward. “They had too many points in the paint early on and kind of dictated what we were doing instead of the opposite. It will be important for us to not fall behind again. It’s tough when you’re playing from behind the entire game. We want to make sure we come out with a lot of energy tonight.”