LOS ANGELES – In a city that prides itself on appearances, the Utah Jazz made things just ugly enough to steal a 96-92 Game 5 win from the L.A. Clippers at Staples Center on Tuesday night.
Chris Paul (28 points, nine assists) fell one helper shy of his fifth straight NBA playoff game with at least 20 points and 10 dimes. He got plenty of support in L.A.’s backcourt from J.J. Redick, who scored more points in Game 5 (26) than he did in Games 2 through 4 combined (24). DeAndre Jordan held his own up front for 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Jazz, though, finished with twice as many players in double figures (six), including Joe Johnson (14 points) and Rodney Hood (16 points) off the bench and all but Joe Ingles among head coach Quin Snyder’s starters.
The Clippers will have two days to regroup before leaving L.A. for a do-or-die Game 6 on Friday at 7:30 pm PT at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.
Quote of the Night
When it comes to staring down daunting deficits in postseason series, L.A. has been there and done that. Friday’s tilt will be the Clippers’ eighth Game 6 of the Chris Paul era.
Two years ago, the team bounced back from a 3-2 hole under similar circumstances to upend the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.
“It’s no secret that our backs are against the wall, down 3-2,” Paul said. “Fortunately, we’ve got a lot of guys in the locker room who had to do this a couple years ago.”
1. Back and Forth
The see-saw between the Clippers and Jazz was in full swing from the get-go.
L.A. opened with a 7-0 lead and Utah riposted with 11 straight points. The two teams traded baskets for most of the second quarter until the Jazz ripped off an 8-1 run to end the first half. After the break, Utah used another 7-0 spurt to go up 69-58, only for L.A. to answer with 11 in a row to knot the score in the fourth quarter. Naturally, the Jazz came back with an 8-0 run of their own.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, L.A. and Utah had traded leads nine times with eight ties. The Clippers, though, never led after relinquishing a 42-40 advantage on a three-pointer by Rodney Hood with 1:37 left in the second quarter.
2. Moves Like JJ
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder knew that J.J. Redick would eventually break out of his shooting slump in thsi series
“I think some of it—knock on wood—is a little bit of luck and just work and chasing and trying to contest,” Snyder said before the game.
By and large, that luck ran dry for Utah in Game 5. Redick came through with 26 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field.
The Clippers’ single-season record-holder in made three-pointers didn’t do it from the outside alone, though his trio of triples helped to keep his team close. Redick drew plenty of contact to contribute to his playoff career highs in free-throw makes (nine) and attempts (10).
L.A. will need Redick to keep his hand warm while the team heads to cooler climes in Salt Lake City for Game 6.
3. Wing Wars
As much as Redick stepped up on the scoreboard, he and the Clippers’ perimeter players were ultimately outgunned by their Jazz counterparts.
Rodney Hood (16 points) hit four huge triples off the bench. Gordon Hayward led all scorers with 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
The All-Star’s biggest play of the game, though, wasn’t a shot, but a rebound. With the clock ticking toward the three-minute mark, Hayward got his hands on a missed three by George Hill and tipped it out to Joe Johnson, who nailed an open shot from deep to put Utah ahead 83-78.
For the first time in this series, the Clippers held the Jazz under 40 percent shooting from three-point range—36.1 percent, to be exact. But Utah still hit more treys than L.A. did (13-10), and now has done so three times in this series.
4. Inside Job
In truth, this game—like this entire matchup to date—was decided inside.
The Jazz outrebounded the Clippers, 43-34, and outscored L.A. in the lane, 34-28, marking the fifth time in as many games that the victor of the paint-point battle has claimed the spoils on the overall scoreboard.
DeAndre Jordan (14 points, 12 rebounds) extended his streak of playoff double-doubles to seven games dating back to last year’s opening series against the Portland Trail Blazers. With Austin Rivers (two points in 18 minutes) back in the rotation, the Clippers had some success getting inside, turning their drives and dishes into a 24-of-29 night at the free-throw line.
Utah’s size and length, though, was once again tough for L.A. to handle. The Jazz managed to slow the game down and muck things up from start to finish, thereby giving their superior size and length a chance to take over on the interior.
5. 7 > 6 > 5
The Clippers will hit the road again after bidding good riddance to their four-point Game 5 defeat. The loss dropped L.A. to 1-11 all time in Game 5s when tied 2-2 in a series.
Not that the Clippers have fared much better in Game 6s. They have won just three of 11 Game 6s dating all the way back to their days in Buffalo.