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3 keys in the Utah Jazz’s 26-point Game 3 loss to the LA Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George, left, shoots as Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale defends during the second half of Game 3 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP

Down 2-0 in their playoff series against the Utah Jazz, the LA Clippers were the aggressors on both ends of the floor in Game 3 Saturday night in Los Angeles and came away with a 132-106 victory.

Here are three keys from the game.

The Clippers’ defense was excellent in the first half

After falling behind 8-0, the Clippers began applying heavy defensive pressure, and it stymied the Jazz’s offense when they didn’t swing the ball to try to find an open 3-point shooter. That defense allowed LA to get into a flow offensively, and they led by four at the end of the first quarter and 15 at halftime.

The Jazz’s defense was bad in the third quarter

Utah finally started getting into more of a rhythm offensively out of halftime, but then they couldn’t get stops. Paul George had 20 points at halftime, and then it was Kawhi Leonard’s turn in the third quarter. For the night, those two combined to score 65 points.

Jazz struggled to make key swing plays

In a sign that it was “one of those nights” for the Jazz, they occasionally seized a bit of momentum and had chances to cut their deficit at key moments but hardly ever converted in those times. Perhaps the biggest example of this was with just over nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Jazz had a chance to cut the deficit to single digits, but Georges Niang had bad turnovers on consecutive possessions, and the Clippers extended the lead and never looked back.


Third quarter: Clippers 94, Jazz 83

The Jazz’s offense finally got into more of a rhythm in the third quarter, although they still struggled at times making the right passes to make their “blender” effective and they couldn’t convert on some key possessions that would have cut the deficit to single digits. More than offense, though, the Jazz struggled defensively in the third quarter, trading baskets too often to make a real dent in the deficit.

Halftime: Clippers 64, Jazz 49

The Clippers maintained their defensive pressure and the Jazz continued to have problems with it like in the first quarter. On the other end of the floor, Utah wasn’t very good at defending the 3-point line and LA shot 10 of 20 from deep. Four Clippers are in double figures, led by Paul George’s 20 points. Donovan Mitchell got going with 16 points in the second quarter, but no other Jazz player made much of an impact on that end of the floor in the frame.

First quarter: Clippers 27, Jazz 23

The Jazz jumped out to an 8-0 lead as the Clippers were playing very lax defensively, but then LA ramped up the pressure, and Utah had a tough time dealing with it for large stretches. Joe Ingles has 11 points for the Jazz, as they’ve been able to score when they swing the ball quickly against the pressure, but Donovan Mitchell is scoreless thus far. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are playing well for the Clippers and have combined for 13 points.