The Utah Jazz and LA Clippers are all knotted up.
For the second game in a row, the Clippers stymied the Jazz to climb into a 2-2 tie in the teams’ second-round NBA playoff series. On Monday at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Clippers won by a score of 118-104.
Here are three keys from the game.
The Clippers shut down what the Jazz wanted to do offensively
Like in Game 3, the Clippers used pressure defense on Donovan Mitchell to completely disrupt the Jazz early. Utah scored the contest’s first basket but LA went on a 10-0 run and never looked back as the Jazz only scored 13 points the entire first quarter and trailed by 17 at the end of the frame. The Clippers led by 24 at halftime and 21 at the end of the third quarter even as Utah had fought back to within 14 in the third.
The Jazz weren’t good defensively
It’s hard to defend when the opponent is turning its own good defense into easy offense, but even in the halfcourt, the Jazz couldn’t stop LA. That was especially true of outside shooters, as the Clippers made 6 of 12 3-pointers in the first quarter alone, and Marcus Morris Sr. had 22 points in the first half, most of which came on open 3-point looks.
Donovan Mitchell didn’t get much help
For much of the night, Donovan Mitchell was the only Jazzman who was making any sort of impact offensively, and he finished with 37 points. Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gobert ended up in double figures, but most of their impact came when it was too little, too late.
Third quarter: Clippers 94, Jazz 73
Thanks to less pressure defense from the Clippers and some missed 3-pointers by Nic Batum, the Jazz were able to get to within 14 points during the third after being down by 24 at halftime, but LA closed the quarter on a 10-2 run to almost get their entire halftime lead back.
Halftime: Clippers 68, Jazz 44
Utah’s offense finally got going a little bit in the final few minutes before halftime, but the Clippers were even better on their offensive end as they widened their lead. At intermission, LA is shooting 50% from the field while the Jazz are just 35%. The Clippers also have big advantages from both behind the 3-point line and the free throw line. LA is dominating the defensive statistics, too, with five steals and the Clippers have forced seven turnovers and committed just two. Donovan Mitchell has 21 points for Utah but the rest of the team has just 23. Three Clippers have at least 15 points.
First quarter: Clippers 30, Jazz 13
If the Clippers stymied the Jazz’s offense in Game 3, they almost completely shut it down early in Game 4. LA’s length didn’t allow Utah to get anything going, and the Jazz resorted almost exclusively to trying to go one-on-one instead of working for better shots. That led to easier offense for the Clippers, and to boot, Utah didn’t do a good job at all of closing out on the perimeter as LA shot 6 of 12 from behind the 3-point line.