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The Jazz’s inability to keep the Clippers off the offensive glass was a huge problem in Game 4

SHARE The Jazz’s inability to keep the Clippers off the offensive glass was a huge problem in Game 4
Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale, right, sits on the floor after committing a foul.

Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale sits on the floor after committing a foul as referee Zach Zarba gestures during the second half in Game 4 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers Monday, June 14, 2021, in Los Angeles. 

Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press

If you were to quickly look at a stat sheet from the Utah Jazz’s 118-104 Game 4 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, you might scan past the offensive rebounds and notice that the Jazz grabbed eight to the Los Angeles Clippers’ 10.

That’s not necessarily a discrepancy that would lead you to believe that’s where the Jazz lost the game in Los Angeles, but that’s a big reason why it happened. Those 10 offensive rebounds for the Clippers spelled doom for the Jazz.

“We weren’t putting ourselves in situations where we could have success. I think defense can cover up for that to an extent, and allow you to sputter a little bit offensively, but in this case we were giving up baskets and suddenly you’ve got a big deficit.” — Jazz coach Quin Snyder

The Clippers scored 18 points on the second-chance opportunities created by rebounds. The Jazz, meanwhile, scored just a one second-chance point, never hitting a field goal generated by an offensive board.

“We weren’t putting ourselves in situations where we could have success,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “I think defense can cover up for that to an extent, and allow you to sputter a little bit offensively, but in this case we were giving up baskets and suddenly you’ve got a big deficit.”

On the second possession of the game, the Jazz gave up the first of the offensive boards to the Clippers. Four Jazz players watched the ball without putting in much effort to get it or check their man, while Nicolas Batum swatted the ball out to Paul George, who found Kawhi Leonard wide open in the right corner. Leonard knocked down a 3-pointer, the first of his 31 points of the game.

“Defensive rebounding is usually a collective effort and combination of initial awareness and urgency,” Snyder said. “I didn’t think we were as locked in on that.”

Whether it was Batum batting out rebounds to the perimeter players, or players getting into the lane and then getting their own rebounds at the rim, the Jazz continually found themselves out of position or ball watching too much.

Snyder pointed to the fact that sometimes the Jazz were more preoccupied with getting their hands on a rebound than they were keeping Clippers’ players from getting the rebound, which might sound like the same thing, but it’s a huge difference in approach and mentality when it comes to rebounding.

In the below clip you’ll see that the third quarter clock is winding down and the Jazz are clearly concerned with paying attention to Leonard, who has the ball. While Rudy Gobert does try to keep his position on Ivica Zubac, there’s more concern for what Leonard will do at the third-quarter buzzer than what Zubac will do if there is enough time.

Zubac ends up with a pretty easy putback after Leonard misses, which put the Clippers up 21 points heading into the fourth quarter.

Maybe 19 points doesn’t seem far off from 21, but when you are trying to claw your way back into a game, a 19-point deficit has to feel less deflating than a 20-plus point deficit.

To the Jazz’s credit, they cut into the Clippers’ lead and tried as much as they could until the final minute of play, but the damage had already been done.

The Clippers had just two second-chance points in the fourth quarter, and had the Jazz not already given up 16 points to LA on offensive rebounds, maybe that lead wouldn’t have been so daunting. Maybe the Jazz would have had more of a chance to steal a game on the road and head back to Utah with a 3-1 lead, rather than the series becoming a best-of-three affair.