One night after legendary coach Jerry Sloan was honored, the Utah Jazz found themselves in Los Angeles, facing the Clippers. Utah kept things close for three quarters, but Los Angeles was just too much to handle. The Clippers handily won the 102-87 game.
Less than 24 hours after the emotion of Sloan’s ceremony, the Jazz found themselves once again facing a potential Western Conference playoff team. Utah controlled the pace in the first half, which kept things close. Once the Clippers were able to get out and run in the second half, it was over. Utah simply could not handle with explosive offensive spurts L.A. displayed.
The Jazz were without the services of big men Derrick Favors and Jeremy Evans, which caused some big holes is their rotations. Utah will look to get back on its recent winning ways Monday at home versus the Toronto Raptors.
Offensive duo: With All-NBA point guard Chris Paul sidelined, much of the Clippers’ burden has fallen on high-flying Blake Griffin and hot shooting Jamal Crawford. Both have risen to the challenge, playing their best basketball of the season. Saturday continued that trend as the pair was simply too much to handle for Utah’s decimated lineup.
From the get-go, Griffin was aggressive and made things difficult for his opponent. Multiple players — Marvin Williams, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert and Richard Jefferson — took their turn trying to stay with him, but they could not do so. Griffin was working inside and out, exhibited his full offensive repertoire. He connected on 9 of 19 shots and earned 12 free-throw attempts (making nine) en route to an easy 25-point, 11-rebound and five-assist performance.
Crawford, the walking definition of a streak shooter, continues to be one of the best players off the bench in the NBA. Simply put, he torched the Jazz, doing much of his damage from the perimeter. Crawford drained 9 of 15 field-goal attempts. He twice was fouled on 3-pointers and went 8 of 9 from the charity stripe. He finished with 28 points and five assists in 31 minutes.
Odds and ends:
• Neither team recorded a blocked shot in the first half. Utah finished with just one for the outing.
• Thanks to their front court advantage, Los Angeles pounded the ball inside and threw in 54 points in the paint. The Jazz had a mere 30.
• In related news, Utah shot a franchise-record 30 3-pointers, making 10. Five Jazz players hoisted at least three attempts.
• Overall, the Jazz shot just 29 of 81 from the floor — a subpar 35.8 percent clip. The quartet of Hayward, Trey Burke, Alec Burks and Richard Jefferson combined to go a paltry 9 of 45.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.