UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Look For Fresh Start In 2021 Against Clippers

Jan 1, 2021, 12:13 PM
Los Angeles Clippers Forward Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)...
Los Angeles Clippers Forward Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are looking to earn their first home win of the season on the first day of 2021 when they face the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. The Jazz are 0-2 at Vivint Arena after a 106-95 loss to the Phoenix Suns on New Year’s Eve.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers are tied with the Suns atop the Western Conference at 4-1. The Clippers dominated the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night in a 128-105 win, their second straight victory before traveling to Utah.

While the Jazz have yet to win at home, the Clippers are undefeated on the road with impressive victories over the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets.

The Clippers are led in scoring by superstar Kawhi Leonard who is averaging 25 points per game, though the wing has appeared in just three of the team’s five outings. Leonard suffered a facial laceration on Christmas Day after catching an inadvertent elbow from teammate Serge Ibaka.

Leonard dawned a mask in the Clippers win over the Trail Blazers, his first game back from the injury.

The Jazz beat the Clippers 125-105 on December 17, the final game of the preseason.

Jazz Plagued By Slow Stars

The Jazz are coming off their third straight game entering the second half with a deficit. After blowing out Portland on opening night, the team has been plagued by slow starts, including their loss to the Suns when they trailed by 13 at the break.

In both of the Jazz home losses they have climbed to within striking distance late in the fourth quarter but have been unable to fully dig themselves out of the large holes.

The team’s struggles have mostly come on the offensive end, spurred by guard Donovan Mitchell who is shooting just 34 percent from the floor and 29 percent from three through four games.

Mitchell led all scorers during the NBA postseason in Orlando but has been unable to recapture his efficiency or offensive prowess to open the season.

Key Matchup

The key matchup between the Clippers and Jazz will pit Leonard against forward Bojan Bogdanovic. Like Mitchell, Bogdanovic has struggled offensively to open the season, including Thursday night’s perplexing 0-5 shooting performance in nearly 30 minutes of play.

Bogdanovic was one of the league’s most prolific three-point shooters but has struggled in both of the team’s home games this season.

The sharpshooter is averaging just six points, four rebounds, and one assist at Vivint Arena while shooting a staggeringly low 14 percent from the floor and 11 percent from three. For the season, Bogdanovic is just 3-21 from the floor and 1-9 from three in Utah.

The Jazz and Clippers tip-off at 7 pm MT, the game will be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet.

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