UTAH JAZZ

Clippers Beat Jazz In Must-Win Game Three

Jun 12, 2021, 10:29 PM | Updated: 10:30 pm

Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic sit courtside in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers (Photo by Sean...

Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic sit courtside in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Los Angeles, California – The Utah Jazz were blown out by the Los Angeles Clippers in game three 132-106 as each team has protected home court through the first three games of the series.

Donovan Mitchell continued to his terrific playoff run, scoring at least 30 points for his fifth straight playoff game, but ultimately it wasn’t enough as the Jazz fell short in Los Angeles.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George had their best games of the series combing for 65 points on 26-48 shooting in the win.

Clippers Undefeated In Must-Win Games

The Clippers have yet to lose a must-win game in the postseason, showing impressive resolve despite finding themselves with their back to the wall several times in the playoffs.

In their opening series against the Dallas Mavericks, the Clippers won game three on the road despite losing games one and two at home. No team has come back from down 3-0 in NBA history, and the Clippers avoided having to become the first with the win.

After dropping game five in LA, the Clippers won game six in Dallas, and game seven at home to once again stave off elimination and advance into the second round.

The Clippers showed the same resolve against the Jazz in game three, avoiding an 0-3 hole, and shifting the pressure back onto Utah to steal a game in LA, or otherwise return home with the series evened up at two games apiece.

It’s a good indicator that despite the Jazz’s strong showings early in the series, they won’t be able to push the Clippers out of contention to advance the Western Conference Finals without a fight.

In must-win games in the playoffs, Leonard is averaging 35.7 points, while George is averaging 25.5.

In non-must-win games, Leonard averages just 26.6 points per game, while George averages just 23.5 points per game.

The Jazz will have to figure out how to limit Leonard specifically in must-win games to close out the series.

Mitchell Leaves Game Late

Despite scoring 30 points, Mitchell left the game with 7:05 left in the fourth quarter and never returned.

The guard limped to the locker room after a missed layup, but returned a few minutes later and walked over to coach Quin Snyder to discuss whether to return to the game.

As the two talked, the Clippers extended their lead to 18 with just over five minutes left to play, essentially ending the game.

“I’m good. That’s all I got for you, I’m good,” Mitchell said. “The situation happened. I felt like I was good to come back, but no need to risk it down 18.”

Snyder echoed Mitchell’s comments after game three.

“I think it was an 18 point lead with four or five minutes to play,” Snyder said. “It didn’t make sense at that point to put him back in.”

Though Mitchell said he could have returned had the game been closer, the Jazz face a stark reality that they won’t have a healthy lead ball-handler for the rest of the playoffs. Mitchell has labored with his injury at least one point in every game since returning against the Memphis Grizzlies in the opening round.

Meanwhile, Mike Conley has yet to play for the Jazz through three games in this series after reaggravating his hamstring injury in game five against the Grizzlies. Even when Conley returns, he’ll risk aggravating the injury for the fourth time this season.

Jazz Lose From Two

The Jazz have built their identity around the three-point shot this season, but it was from inside the arc where the Jazz lost game three to the Clippers.

Despite shooting a strong 19-44 from three, and 15-17 from the free-throw line, the team combined to shoot just 17-40 inside the three-point line. Inside the paint, the Jazz knocked down 16-35 attempts, including 2-10 outside of the restricted area.

On the other end, the Clippers shot 31-53 inside the arc which proved to be the difference. Most impressively, LA knocked down 9-13 non-paint two-point field goals scoring 18 points from the least efficient scoring zone on the floor.

“I think tonight we didn’t do a great job of being loud and talking to each other throughout the whole game,” Gobert said.

After keeping Leonard from getting easy looks in games one and two, Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale struggled to keep the former Finals MVP out of the paint.

Leonard shot just 1-6 from three for the night but connected on 13-18 shots inside the arc for 26 of his 34 points.

In a game decided by 26 points, the Clippers outscored the Jazz by 28 points on tw0-point field goals, which proved to be the difference in the game.

Bogdanovic had his worst game of the series, scoring just nine points on 2-10 shooting despite getting several open looks inside the three-point line.

Jordan Clarkson also had his worst outing of the series, connecting on just 1-7 field-goal from two-point range.

The Jazz now turn their attention to game four, hoping to return to Salt Lake City with a 3-1 lead going into game five.

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