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Instant analysis: Utah Jazz bounce back to beat LA Clippers

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) passes away from LA Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (21) as the Utah Jazz and LA Clippers play in an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. Utah won 106-100.
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) passes away from LA Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (21) as the Utah Jazz and LA Clippers play in an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. Utah won 106-100.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz snapped out of their funk on Friday night against a rather unlikely opponent, as they beat the LA Clippers 106-100 at Vivint Arena to move to 3-2 on the season.

High notes

  • The Jazz dominated most of the way and led by 19 points in the fourth quarter before the Clippers cut the deficit to just a point with 3:15 to play, but Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert were great down the stretch in closing the door, combining to score all of Utah’s last 11 points (Conley 7, Gobert 4).

  • A whole lot went right for the Jazz Friday, but the top bullet point goes to Conley. He’s been great so far this season averaging 18.5 points per game entering Friday, but he took it to another level against the Clippers, not just down the stretch but throughout. He finished with 33 points and seven assists, and just about everything was working along the way (he shot 11 of 20, including 7 of 14 from behind the 3-point line. Some nights are going to be like that where a player is just feeling it, but Conley legitimately has been great so far this year and looks much more comfortable with what he’s supposed to do than he did last season.
  • More generally, the Jazz’s offense flowed as well as it has since the season opener against the Portland Trail Blazers. Utah players said after Thursday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns that they wanted to play with more pace (but be more deliberate if they had to go to their halfcourt offense), and the Jazz did that for the most part, as they didn’t often let the ball stick.
  • Defensively, Utah was really good inside. Clipper All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George struggled from the field even when they got open looks, but if the ball got in the paint, the Jazz shut it down well. Besides big men Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors doing what they do, others such as Jordan Clarkson were active around the basket.
  • Gobert finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, and Favors notched a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Low notes

  • In truth, quite a few players didn’t have very good nights offensively. Most notably, Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic struggled once again in large measure. After combining for the Jazz’s first seven points and nine of their first 13, neither scored again until a Mitchell 3-pointer inside of two minutes until halftime. For the game, Mitchell scored 15 points on 6 of 14 shooting and 3 of 10 from behind the 3-point line. Bogdanovic scored just six points on 3 of 12 shooting, including 0 of 4 from behind the 3-point line.
  • After Thursday’s game, the Jazz pointed to the idea of over-helping on defense as a reason the Suns got some of their open 3-pointers. On Friday night as the Clippers cut an 18-point deficit to just one in the second quarter before Utah turned things back on, the Jazz had some over-helping problems again. It’s a good thing to help your teammates, especially defensively, and there might be even more of an inclination to do so when you’re facing stars like Leonard and George, but sometimes Utah players needlessly provided help, which led to some open LA 3s. That needs to get better from the Jazz as time goes on.

Flat note

  • The Jazz committed 10 turnovers in the first half, many of which came in the second quarter as the Clippers mounted a comeback, but Utah cleaned things up in the second half and finished with 14 giveaways.