The Los Angeles Clippers’ skid extended to four games after their 109-129 loss to the Utah Jazz. Along with having a sound effort on both sides of the court, the Jazz scored 30 points from the free throw line.
“[The Clippers] don’t make it easy at all,” said Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. “Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect, I just got to watch a lot of film. Unfortunately, I had five turnovers. They still made me work.”
Four Clippers players reached the double digits with guard Lou Williams scoring 23 points and six assists off the bench. Center Montrezl Harrell made seven rebounds and 11 points. Mitchell scored 28 points and center Rudy Gobert made 22 boards and four blocks for the Jazz.
Utah secured a fifth consecutive win while having five players out on injury including starting guard Ricky Rubio. Jazz guard Royce O’Neale noted how playing defense was key to their win.
“Everybody being alert, starting with the guards, not giving [the Clippers] free throws and they like getting to the free throw line,” O’Neale said. “Forcing them to [Gobert] getting blocks, alternate shots and then getting the easy basket on the offensive end.”
The Clippers was slow to start, but made up for their lagging offense in the second quarter. Harrell and guard Lou Williams scored close ranged shots to fill a 11-point gap. Utah could not sink a shot for four regulated minutes and the Clippers revived their shooting. Forward Jae Crowder scored five points in two possessions to keep the Jazz ahead.
“If you tip-toe in the games, hoping someone hands you a game, you’re going in with the wrong approach,” Williams said. “Sometimes you have to be a little bit more forceful, got to play harder, play faster and play more physical and good things happens. I don’t think we’ve done that.”
Guard Avery Bradley put on a sound shooting performance, leading the Clippers with 11 points during the first half. He ended the night with 15 points.
“He is playing faster, he is coming off of his screens, pulling the ball,” said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers about Bradley. “His points were great for us tonight.”
Although they trailed for most of the game, the Clippers kept the game close until the third quarter. What started off as a five-point deficit ballooned into 17 points. Los Angeles sent the Jazz to the line seven times. Mitchell and O’Neale made buckets, the Clippers could not overcome the defensive energy of the Jazz.
“We came out and we got stops early and that got us going, that got us the lead early,” Gobert said. “We didn’t start the season the way we wanted, but we have a great coaching staff and we kept our poise.”
Williams, Gallinari and guard Tyrone Wallace found baskets, but the Clippers continued to trail in double digits into the fourth quarter. Williams and guard Tobias Harris countered three-pointers by Utah with shots of their own. Center Boban Marjanovic come into the match in the last minutes but could not resolve their point disparity.
“We definitely have to lock in and be in the right mindset,” Harrell said. “Approach each game with the right spirit and the right mindset and carry out our plan and what we want to do.”