Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and guard Chris Paul helped carry the Clippers to a big win in Game 2 in Utah. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Clippers entered Game 2 after a dispiriting Game 1 loss to the Utah Jazz. They turned it around with a much-needed Game 2 win. They left the game with three major positive developments to build on heading into Game 3.
The Los Angeles Clippers appeared to be in line for a big break after Rudy Gobert went down with an unfortunate injury early in the first game against the Utah Jazz. Instead, they never quite managed to find a rhythm and lost on a Joe Johnson buzzer beater.
With only one more game before traveling out to Utah, the Clippers needed a big win in Game 2. They did not exactly blow out the Jazz, but they led for most of the game in a 99-91 win.
There three important factors that stood out in this game, ranging from somewhat important to vital for the Clippers’ future success.
If Los Angeles can maintain their successes and build on their weak points, they will control the outcome of the rest of the series.
LA Clippers guard JJ Redick drives past Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles, in one of the few times he has been aggressive on offense during this series. Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
3: J.J. Redick’s Lack of Fire
Early in the game, TNT caught some footage of DeAndre Jordan speaking to J.J. Redick. Jordan told Redick to be more aggressive with his shooting and to not hesitate when he found himself with an open shot.
The message from Jordan was great, but the execution by Redick was not. Redick did shoot more often in the second half, but still looked hesitant and shaky on both ends of the floor. He finished the night with four points on seven shots to go along with five fouls.
Jamal Crawford nearly attempted more shots Tuesday night (12) than J.J. has in the first two games combined (13).
The Clippers managed to get the win despite Redick’s poor performance, but their offense cannot operate at its best with Redick being tentative. DeAndre Jordan was right to remind J.J. that they need him to shoot often and shoot with confidence.
The Clippers will have to hope that the message gets through before the team heads to Utah.
LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin holds the ball after Utah’s Game 1 win, one of the few times he had the ball during a tough second half. He turned that around in Game 2. Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
2: Blake Griffin Settles In
Blake Griffin led both teams in scoring in Game 1. However, that game was a tale of two halves. Griffin lit up the scoreboard in the first half of Game 1 but struggled mightily in the second half — especially down the stretch with his two-point fourth quarter.
Griffin was also careless with the ball, turning it over six times.
His performance in Game 2 was far more consistent. He put up 11 of his 24 points in the second half and was actually slightly more efficient after the halftime buzzer. Additionally, he did not commit a single turnover in either half.
Griffin once again led both teams in scoring. However, his Game 1 performance was entirely predicated on his strong first half. Griffin’s impact in this game was felt throughout, and he even threw down some impressive dunks.
Still, neither his dunking nor his overall performance matched the brilliant play of his fellow starting big man.
LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had a lot to smile about after a fantastic Game 2. Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
1: DeAndre Jordan Remembers That Rudy Gobert Is Injured
DeAndre Jordan should have feasted on the Utah Jazz in their first game. With Rudy Gobert in the locker room, the biggest obstacle (literally) to DJ’s success was removed.
While Derrick Favors is a solid rim protector in his own right, he simply does not have the same lateral quickness or intimidation factor as Gobert. In spite of that, DeAndre only managed 10 points on seven shots and was nowhere near as aggressive as he should have been.
Jordan surpassed that point total in the first quarter of this game. He finished the night with 15 rebounds and 18 points on 11 shots, including numerous thunderous dunks:
Favors might be good at protecting the rim when he is there. However, he does not have anywhere near the same lateral quickness and recovery speed on pick-and-roll defense that Gobert does. DeAndre exposed that all night long by cutting through wide-open lanes to the basket.
Jordan and the Clippers will both have to hope that Gobert is unable to return before the end of the series. However, Los Angeles still were not able to blow this game open after a 19-8 run to start the first quarter.
The pace slowed down to a crawl, especially whenever Chris Paul sat out — this game was played at a pace of 88.7 points per 100 possessions, which is somehow slower than Utah’s season mark of 91.6 that was by far the league low.
The Clippers still have room to improve even after this win as the series heads to Utah.
If they can manage to build on their successes from this game and take Utah out of their comfort zone with a more aggressive offense, they should be able to take advantage of Gobert’s absence and advance to the second round.