Clippers’ playoff hopes get slimmer with 117-95 loss to Jazz
The Clippers road to the Western Conference playoffs is littered with roadblocks.
That path reached a critical juncture following the Clippers’ unsettling 117-95 setback to the Utah Jazz on Thursday night at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.
“It was the first game I thought we let go of the rope,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Like, you could see it early. It was disappointing. It happens. It’s life. We have to get over it. I have to watch the film. That was disappointing tonight.”
The Clippers’ third loss in their last four games has left 10th-place L.A. 2 ½-games behind the eighth-placeNew Orleans Pelicans for the final playoff spot in the West.
A seventh consecutive postseason berth for the Clippers is not totally out of the question because they have three regular-season games left and they still meet two of the teams ahead of them in the Denver Nuggets and the Pelicans.
It’s just that the Clippers don’t control their own destiny.
They need both the Nuggets, whom they play Saturday at Staples Center, and Pelicans, whom they meet at home Monday, to lose more games. The Clippers finish the regular season hosting the Lakers.
“We try to win the three and see if we can get help,” Rivers said. “That can happen. We play the teams in front of us, but we’re going to need a lot of help.”
In a game the Clippers never seemed inspired to play, Rivers call a timeout just 1:14 into the game with his team down 3-0 and with Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell about to step to the free-throw line.
Rivers said his reason for calling that timeout was “probably was an indication of what was about to happen.”
“You could see it,” he said. “We had messed up two defensive rotations within a minute, two that we walked over in shoot-around. When you see that, you just don’t have a good feel.”
Rivers had tried to shake up his team after the Clippers got down by 20 points in the first half.
He started what has to be considered his best five of DeAndre Jordan, Montrezl Harrell, Tobias Harris, Austin Rivers and Lou Williams in the second half.
That group’s poor defensive effort put the Clippers in a 72-51 hole three minutes into the third quarter, forcing Rivers to call another timeout.
“I just thought the team that’s probably in the playoffs played harder than the team trying to get in,” Rivers said. “That rarely happens with us, but it happened tonight.”
Nothing helped on a night when the Clippers went down by as much as 30 points.
Their defense was nonexistent, allowing the Jazz to make 53% of their shots.
The Clippers tossed up three-pointers recklessly, making only three out of 17.
“It looked like the game mattered more to them than it did to us,” said Jordan, who finished with just nine rebounds and eight points. “We got our [butt] kicked. It was as simple as that.”
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