Disconnected Jazz Fall To Surging Clippers In Game Four

Jun 15, 2021, 12:07 AM
Donovan Mitchell stands on the sidelines as the Utah Jazz face the Los Angeles Clippers in game fou...
Donovan Mitchell stands on the sidelines as the Utah Jazz face the Los Angeles Clippers in game four of the playoffs (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, California – The Utah Jazz fell to the Los Angeles Clippers 118-104 in game four. After losing both road games in LA, the Jazz find themselves in a 2-2 tie with the Clippers in the best of seven series.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 37 points but shot just 9-26 from the floor and 6-15 from the three-point line as the Jazz offense struggled to find a consistent rhythm throughout the game.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points each for the Clippers, while Marcus Morris added 24 points on 6-11 shooting to carry the offensive load.

Clippers Blowout Jazz Early In Game Four

Despite trimming the deficit to 14 at the final buzzer, the outcome of the game was apparent soon after the opening tip. Bojan Bogdanovic got a driving dunk to open the game for the Jazz, giving them a 2-0 lead.

That would be the biggest deficit the Clippers faced all game, as they responded with a 10-0 run, which soon ballooned to 20-6, then 30-13 by the end of the first quarter. Just as in games one and three, the Jazz failed to generate pressure on the rim against the Clippers’ smaller lineups.

Unlike games one and three, however, the Jazz also failed to create open looks from the three-point line, shooting just3-16 from three to open the game. That poor shooting allowed the Clippers’ lead to climb to 21 points just minutes into the second quarter.

“We knew what was coming, we knew how they’re going to do it,” Mitchell said of the Clippers’ defense, “but I think we shot ourselves in the foot a few times with the turnovers.”

The Jazz committed six first quarter turnovers, equal to the number of made first quarter baskets. Those turnovers teamed with six second-chance points in the opening 12 minutes resulted in eight easy points for the Clippers, and a deeper hole for the Jazz to dig out of.

Tyronn Lue’s defense has solved the Jazz offense attack, with one help defender never further than a few steps away from Mitchell regardless of which directions he dribbles and additional Clippers defenders able to rotate onto would-be open Jazz shooters.

With no open looks, the Jazz were left turning to Mitchell and Jordan Clarson to create shots in isolation. With Mitchell playing on an injured ankle, and Clarkson’s erratic style of play erring on the side of inefficiency in game four, the Jazz simply failed to create a cohesive offensive attack through most of the game.

“We weren’t connected,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “I think that that showed with a 13 point first quarter. We were trying to attack, but we weren’t putting ourselves in situations where we could have success.”

The Jazz found more cohesion late in the game, but at that point, their deficit was insurmountable and the Clippers had taken their foot off the accelerator.

The Jazz Plus-Minus Problem

Individual plus-minus numbers are one of the more fickle statistics in the NBA. Players plus-minus stats are heavily swayed by which lineup they play alongside throughout a game.

Additionally, short spurts on the floor that coincide with lopsided scoring runs and droughts can inaccurately skew a player’s impact.

However, there’s nothing mysterious or inaccurate about any Jazz player’s plus-minus in their two losses. Every player on the roster except Joe Ingles finished with a negative plus-minus in each of the last two games.

For perspective, the Jazz had just one other game this season when they failed to have at least one player finish with a positive plus-minus on the floor. That came in the team’s 130-96 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on the seventh night of the season.

Over the last two games, these are plus-minus totals for each Jazz player:

Bogdanovic: -25

O’Neale: -28

Gobert: -17

Ingles: -8

Mitchell: -25

Clarkson: -40

Favors: -20

Niang: -20

Oni: -5

It’s a testament to the thorough domination from the Clippers over the last eight quarters who minus a very short stretch in the middle of the third quarter of game three have outplayed the Jazz for almost all of the last 96 minutes, and how poorly the Jazz have reacted to the Clippers adjustments.

On the opposite end, every Clippers player has had a positive plus-minus over the last two games, outside of

Credit To Clippers Coach Tyronn Lue

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue deserves immense credit for the adjustments he’s made through the first four games against the Jazz.

The Clippers weren’t dramatically outplayed in games one and two, losing by a combined nine points between the two games.

Rather than wait for his team to shoot the ball better, or the Jazz to cool off, he continued to tinker with his lineup until he found the winning combination. That combination revealed itself in game three, with Clippers going small with Marcus Morris in the lineup, moving away from veterans DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo, and inserting Terance Mann into the lineup.

With the smaller lineup, the Jazz have struggled to match up with the Clippers outside shooting defensively, and can’t get into the paint on offense. The Clippers have connected on 34-73 (46 percent) over their last two games, while the Jazz have shot just 44 percent inside the arc.

“The way we played, the way we performed the other night, it was great, so why change it,” Lue said before game four.

It’s also a testament to the Clippers’ depth. Lue has the advantage at the end of his bench of picking between veterans with a variety of skills, including four-time DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo, who was a critical piece in the Los Angeles Lakers championship run last season.

“If we need certain players or certain pieces,” Lue said, “you try to plug those guys in when needed.”

Snyder meanwhile doesn’t have that luxury for the Jazz. With Conley out of the lineup, the Jazz coach is left picking between second-year, second-round draft pick Miye Oni as his ninth-man, or Trest Forrest, a rookie who joined the Jazz as an undrafted free agent on a two-way contract to serve as the fourth guard in the rotation.

Rather than continue with his nine-man rotation in game four, Snyder pulled Oni out of the lineup for all but one first half minute and garbage time to close the game, opting to play just eight players in the rotation.

Already shorthanded with All-Star Conley out of the lineup, Snyder had to up the minutes of the other rotation players he trusted to have on the floor. Mitchell played 39 minutes, the most he’s played in a non-overtime game this season, while Bogdanovic recorded just under 39 minutes, the most he’s played in almost a month.

It’s a difficult predicament for the Jazz who find themselves running out of bodies, and games let to find the right adjustment to keep their season alive.

The Jazz return home for game five Wednesday at Vivint Arena. When they return to Staples Center for game six on Friday, Los Angeles’s COVID-19 restrictions will have been lifted, allowed the Clippers to fill their arena to max capacity.

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz...
Ben Anderson

Low Energy Jazz No Match For Hawks

The Utah Jazz had few answers for the more aggressive Atlanta Hawks in a 115-108 loss Friday night in Salt Lake City.
2 days ago
Chandler Holt

Jordan Clarkson Goes On Late Run To Bring Jazz Into Striking Distance

At the end of the fourth quarter against Atlanta, Jordan Clarkson scored 8 straight points to pull the Jazz closer.
2 days ago
Utah Jazz center Kelly Olynyk...
Ben Anderson

Hawks Shock Jazz Early, Win In Utah

The Atlanta Hawks jumped on the Utah Jazz early in the first quarter and never relented in a near wire-to-wire 115-108 win. 
2 days ago
Chandler Holt

Lauri Markkanen Shows Off His Handle Against Hawks

In the third quarter against Atlanta, Lauri Markkanen showed off his All-Star level talent with a tough stepback three-pointer.
2 days ago
Chandler Holt

Collin Sexton Starts Out Strong Against Atlanta Hawks

In the first quarter against the Atlanta Hawks, Collin Sexton came off the bench on fire. He scored 8 points on 4/4 shooting.
2 days ago
Ben Anderson

Jazz Roster Grades Ahead Of Trade Deadline

The Utah Jazz are through week 15 of the NBA season so it’s time to examine how they’ve fared in the four factors of a successful season.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.
KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.
ksl sports logos...
KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.
Iron Maiden tour...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden returns to Utah in 2022 with The Legacy of the Beast tour.
Disconnected Jazz Fall To Surging Clippers In Game Four