How the Jazz improbably, unbelievably blew a 25-point lead to the Clippers — again
It wasn’t the playoffs, but it sure looked similar to Utah’s Game 6 meltdown against the Clippers last season
LOS ANGELES — The Utah Jazz had a 25-point lead against the L.A. Clippers. The ball was moving, the shots were falling, the offense and defense were singing.
Then, slowly and deliberately, the Clippers chipped away at that lead until they had control of the game. The Jazz were spiraling. Mistake after mistake after mistake and all of a sudden water is being poured over the top of a player on the Clippers as he does a walk-off interview in front of the home crowd.
It seems unbelievable that I’m even writing this story, because I’ve written it before.
The Jazz were bounced from the 2021 playoffs by blowing a 25-point lead to the Clippers in this building on June 18. It’s stunning that the same thing happened again on Tuesday night. The same collapse, against the same team.
“Just, again. Again and again,” Rudy Gobert said. “And the same way.”
I started to ask Donovan Mitchell what he thought, and if it was hard not to think of Game 6 after Tuesday’s loss but before I could even finish the question he just shook his head and sighed and looked absolutely at a loss for words.
“I don’t know, Sarah. I don’t know,” Mitchell said, rubbing his face with one hand and letting his other hit the table in exasperation. “It’s the same (expletive). I mean, it feels the same way. It’s the same thing. This is literally the same thing.”
It wasn’t exactly the same. The Jazz were missing Bojan Bogdanovic, as well as other players that are a part of their normal rotation including Danuel House Jr. and Hassan Whiteside. Trent Forrest left the game in the first half with a concussion and the Jazz were playing with 10-day signee Greg Monroe who had never played with the team before.
On the Clippers’ side, it wasn’t Terance Mann scoring 39 points in the improbable comeback. Instead, Paul George was playing for the first time in more than three months and dropped 34 on the Jazz.
But, if you put aside the more nuanced details of the game, it felt the same as the Game 6 loss. It felt like the Jazz were faced with a hill that they had fallen down before, and they got to the same exact spot on their ascent before tumbling down to the bottom again.
Pouring salt on the wound, former Jazz player Miye Oni, who the team traded in January only for him to be immediately waved by the Oklahoma City Thunder, got on Twitter on Tuesday, minutes after the game ended and insinuated that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Oni later deleted the post.
This was a ridiculous failure on the part of the Jazz. They know it and they’re mad because it felt like a self-inflicted gut punch. They walked into Crypto.com Arena and absolutely slammed their collective foot on the gas pedal, only to then release the clutch too fast, and stall the car out in second gear in the middle of the same intersection where their season ended last year.
Then they turn around and former players are dunking on them on social media. The whole situation is crazy. I’d say ‘You can’t write this stuff,’ but here we are.
If there’s any silver lining from this colossal collapse, it’s the one that came from Jazz head coach Quin Snyder after the game.
“The good thing about this game is that it’s not Game 6,” he said.
The Jazz once again said that they have to be better and that they have to fix their issues and play more consistently and not give up a lead by relaxing and changing the way that they play. But this time they were more upset and more baffled because they’ve literally sat in this building after doing the same exact thing and they have felt this way before.
They can only hope this is the last time they have to relive the nightmare.