Here are takeaways from the Clippers’ 105-98 loss to the Utah Jazz in their first-round NBA playoff series. Series is tied, 2-2.
1. The absence of Blake Griffin was felt all over the place for the Clippers in Game 4 Sunday night, but mostly on the inside during the Western Conference first-round playoff game against the Utah Jazz.
L.A. was outscored 58-36 in the paint, and that’s the area Griffin does most of his damage.
Griffin, out for the rest of the playoffs after he suffered a plantar plate injury to his right big toe in Game 3, sat behind the bench in Game 4 and even joined the Clippers huddle at one point during the fourth quarter.
But he wasn’t able to give the Clippers those thunderous dunks or those drives to the hoop or those rolling hook shots.
Meanwhile, Jazz big men Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors went to work inside, rolling to the basket for bucket after bucket.
Gobert, the 7-1 center, had 15 points on six-for-six shooting, and Favors, the backup 6-10 center, had 17 points off the bench on seven-for-10 shooting.
2. On the whole, the Clippers’ defense never really got a handle on the Jazz.
And that, more than anything else, is why the Clippers lost and the best-of-seven series is tied at 2-2.
The fourth quarter was the harbinger, the moment of truth when the Clippers’ defense disappeared altogether.
They were ripped apart by the Jazz, which shot 71.4% from the field in the fourth, 66.7% from three-point range.
There was a time when the Clippers led 87-80 in the fourth, but they were outscored 25-11 the rest of the way.
For the game, the Jazz shot 54.1% from the field, 45.5% from three-point range. Utah made 57.6% of its shots in the second half, 50.0% of its three-pointers.
The Clippers could never overcome this because their defense was so porous.
3. Jamal Crawford was a power source for the Clippers off the bench.
He began the game on fire, going five-for-five from the field, three-for-three from three-point range.
Crawford had 25 points for the game, going nine-for-13 from the field, five-for-seven from three-point range.
4. The Clippers continue to wait for J.J. Redick to get untracked.
He had 12 points, but was just three-for-11 from the field, two-for-seven from three-point range.
Redick was a minus-11 in the plus/minus category.
5. With Griffin out, Marreese Speights started at power forward.
It was not one of Speights’ better games.
He played just 20 minutes, 36 seconds.
And Speights had just five points and four rebounds.
He missed six of his eight shots, four of his five three-pointers.