Clippers can’t keep up with Jazz in 111-105 loss
The unshakable Clippers were not discouraged by a 111-105 loss to an equally unflinching Utah Jazz team Wednesday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena before 18,306 yelling fans.
The Clippers are made up of a defiant bunch determined to participate in the Western Conference playoffs and one tough loss was not going to dishearten this group.
“Overall, it was a good test for us,” said Patrick Beverley, who had 12 points, 10 rebounds and played his usual stellar defense. “We weathered the storm. I felt like we showed Utah, we showed other teams in the West that we’re not just an eighth seed trying to make the playoffs, but we are one of the top teams in the West and it showed tonight.”
It showed in how the Clippers stayed the course despite their offense not being on point.
They shot just 39.4% from the field and a miserable 19.2% from three-point range (five for 26). They had 12 of their shots blocked by the Jazz, and that slowed the Clippers’ offense down some.
Two of the Clippers’ top offensive threats, Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams, struggled with their offense, shooting a combined eight for 32 from the field and one for nine from three-point range.
“Me and Lou make shots, we win the game,” Gallinari said, “bottom line.”
But they did not and now the Clippers stand tied with the San Antonio Spurs at 34-29.
The Clippers are tied for seventh with the Spurs and two games ahead of the ninth-placed Sacramento Kings, whom the Clippers play Friday night.
“I’ll tell you it was as close as our guys have seen as a playoff game,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said about playing the Jazz.
“And it was amazing how hard both teams were playing. Neither one of us could get our offense going for the most part. It really came down the stretch to some loose balls.”
The crucial moment came with the Clippers trailing by four late in the game and actually getting a defensive stop. But the Clippers gave up back-to-back offensive rebounds to the Jazz, the second leading to a three-pointer by Joe Ingles for a 103-96 lead Los Angeles would never overcome.
Donovan Mitchell made sure the Jazz stayed in control by scoring 32 points, his two free throws with 15 seconds left closing the door for good on the Clippers.
“Every game is going to be like this,” Gallinari said. “It has to be like this for us. We played with a great intensity, and they were able to win the game, but we played a pretty good game.”
Luc Mbah a Moute was on the court taking some shots before the Clippers played the Jazz, but Rivers said there still is no timetable for the forward’s return.
Mbah a Moute has been out for 59 games with a sore left knee. Rivers also wasn’t sure when Wilson Chandler would return from a strained right quad.
Mbah a Moute is at least on the two-game trip that goes to Sacramento.
“I honestly don’t know about Luc,” Rivers said. “I think him and Wilson are close, but we only have  games left. We need them back.”
Coming out of the All-Star break, promising rookie point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was in a slump, his shot betraying him more than it had during any stretch this season.
But he broke out in a big way against the Jazz, going six for eight from the, one for two from three-point range and scoring 13 points.
In that three-game stretch after the break, Gilgeous-Alexander was one for 17 from the field and had missed all six of his three-pointers.
“He can’t get those games back,” said Williams. “So the only thing he can do is push forward. It was good for him to see some shots go in. Hopefully that’ll steamroll into more games like that.”
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