Five Takeaways: Clippers Can’t Survive Johnson Late Game Heroics

The Jazz gained Rudy Gobert for Game 4, lost Gordon Hayward, but won against the Blake Griffin-less Clippers to tie the series 2-2.

Ahead by seven midway through the fourth quarter, the Clippers lost in a similar fashion to Game 1 as the Jazz rallied behind Joe Johnson post-ups and team ball movement

Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers 105-98 loss.

1) Gordon Hayward leaves game, Joe Johnson steps up – The Jazz sent an IV to Gordon Hayward’s house before the game, hoping to hydrate the star through his reported food poisoning bout. He tried to play through the sickness, starting the game, but came out at the first substitution looking fatigued. Hayward returned later in the first quarter, only to leave permanently a few minutes later.

In Hayward’s place, Joe Johnson stepped up, just as he did when Rudy Gobert went down in Game 1, scoring a game-high 28 points tonight. One point in the fourth quarter, Johnson scored 11 straight points for Utah, despite the Clippers doubling him every time he posted up. Then, the seven time All-Star beat the extra defender with exceptional vision, recording three assists over the subsequent possessions.

Hayward played a total of nine minutes, managing three points and two rebounds. His status for Game 5 is uncertain

2) Chris Paul nearly records triple double – Paul asserted himself, again, leading the team with 27 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, just one shy of DeAndre Jordan’s team-high 10 rebounds. With Blake Griffin out, Paul showed the well-roundedness of his game out of necessity, doing everything possible to help the Clippers win. Paul has recorded 10-plus assists in every game so far this postseason, the only player to do so.

3) Rudy Gobert back as Jazz control paint – Gobert returned from a three game absence caused by a right knee sprain and started, despite admitting his physical condition was not at 100-percent. The Jazz center played in about five minute stretches throughout the game, elevating the Jazz’s offense and defense dramatically. Gobert played 24 minutes, tallying 15 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks. In the first quarter, Gobert received a pass on the baseline and vaulted with a two handed dunk over Marreese Speights, sending the Vivint Smart Home Arena into a craze. He also dominated a stretch late in the second quarter, guarding the rim, grabbing offensive rebounds and finishing acrobatic layups, leading the Jazz to a three point halftime lead.

The Jazz bested the Clippers with 58 points in the paint to the Clippers 36, by far the most for the Jazz this postseason. The winner of each game in the series has won the points in the paint battle.

3) Jamal Crawford finds shooting stroke – Jamal Crawford burst out of his series-long shooting slump in the first quarter, and continued the excellent scoring throughout the game, hitting timely buckets when the Clippers were in need. Crawford electrified the first half, not missing a shot and pacing the team with 15 points, including three three-pointers. In the second half, Crawford carried the Clippers offense when Paul rested, drilling tough jumper after tough jumper.

The only thing able to stop Crawford tonight was himself, as he committed five fouls, forcing Doc Rivers to sit Crawford for a prolonged stretch in the fourth quarter.

5) Clippers extend range – As a team, the Clippers attempted the most three pointers, 32, thus far this series. The return of Gobert, paired with inserting shooters for the injured Griffin, resulted in the team making 11 three’s, with Crawford making five of seven, a career-high in the postseason for him. Felton was the only other Clipper to make more than he missed, sinking the only two he shot. The starting unit struggled to connect, going four of 22 as a five man squad.

What’s Next? The Clippers play the Jazz Tuesday, April 25th, in the STAPLES Center.

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