Salt Lake City – Donovan Mitchell’s scoring sent the Utah Jazz into the lead and his defense closed the door.
Mitchell scored 37 points and the Jazz missed nine straight down the stretch to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 117-111 on Thursday night and take a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Mitchell won the game with the driving shot with 43 seconds remaining, but then appeared to slightly injure his leg on a foul by Paul George with 10 seconds to play. He made one of two free throws after hobbing into the line.
“I’m fine now. I came here and if you want me to sprint for you, I can. I’m good,” Michelle said.
The guard is the first Jazz player to score at least 35 points in back-to-back playoff games since Karl Malone in 1988, but the points became more difficult as the game progressed.
“I don’t feel like I have to go out there and do everything. I think the credit goes to the people who are in this team because they can go there and play. Everyone has raised their game, Michelle said.
Jordan Clarkson scored 24 runs, including six 3-pointers, while Joe Ingalls had 19 points and Rudy Gobert contributed 13 points and a career playoff-high 20 rebounds.
Reggie Jackson led the Clippers with 29 points and George had 27 points. Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points, but managed just two in the fourth quarter.
The series moved to Los Angeles on Saturday for Game 3.
Once the Clippers took their only lead at 101-99 after consecutive 3-pointers by Jackson, the Jazz forced nine consecutive misses to score 14-2, which was capped by Ingalls’ 3-pointers. and to make it 113-103:07 to play.
“You can’t dig a ditch like this against a good team. Then you have to spend all your energy trying to get back in the game and you don’t have enough to finish,” Clippers coach Tyrone Lew said.
In the second half, the Clippers mixed up a lot of coverage and cut passing lanes that usually gave the Jazz a 3-point look and Jackson got hot.
“We hit a punch, but we were able to collect ourselves and obviously stayed late,” said Utah coach Quinn Snyder.
Mitchell scored 27 first-half points – the most by a Utah player in the past 25 years – to propel the Jazz to an early lead and then take Utah to a 66-53 halftime lead at the end of the second quarter.
“I’ve seen every coverage. It’s just a matter of reading right for me,” Michelle said.
Mitchell scored 11 of 16 in the first half and did the same in the second half of Game 1. He collected 59 points in those four quarters, shooting 32 of the 22.
Demonstrator Mitchell has said he wants to conserve energy with the extraordinary physical demands of the playoffs, but he couldn’t help but show emotion in some of his spectacular finishes.
“So for me it was, I’m going to make my mark… That was my mindset, I’m going to be aggressive and take my positions,” Mitchell said.
Mike Connelly missed his second game after injuring his hamstring late in the Utah-Memphis series finale, but the Jazz have now won six straight playoff games.
Jackson scored 16 points in the third quarter and the Jazz eventually began to miss shots against an active Clippers zone. His 21-point lead was reduced to four when Marcus Morris ran down the lane and flipped in a flanking shot to make 82-78. The Clippers made their comeback without Leonard, who sat for most of the period with four fouls.
“We’re just trying to make sure we can keep him on his heels and don’t let him get into the set defense,” Jackson said. “That’s what I love about life, it’s the law of the average. We were bound to get hot.”
For most of the game, the Clippers looked for Gobert whenever he entered the lane and resorted to double-pumps and odd angles on shots into the basket that were not blocked by the long-armed Frenchman.
Instead of going short, the Clippers tackled Gobert with DeMarcus Cousins and Ivica Zubac, who were upset with a foul in the first half.
Clippers: After posting the league’s best free throw percentage ever in the regular season (83.9%), the Clippers made 20 out of 23.
Jazz: Coach Quinn Snyder and owner Ryan Smith present their third Defensive Player of the Year award to Gobert before tipoff. … The Jazz scored 20 3-pointers (on 39 attempts) to set a franchise playoff record.
unlikely defensive hero
Gobert attracts attention as the Jazz’s defensive anchor, but Bojan Bogdanovic was the talk of the Utah locker room after the game.
“Bojan’s defense was fantastic. He’s playing that role and taking on that challenge. We joke with him all the time and we look at Bojan and say, ‘Hey we pay you to shoot’ are,” said Michelle.
Bogdanovic, who had 16 points, lifted Leonard to full court and gave him two points in the fourth quarter on 1-of-4 shooting and two turnovers.
“What Bojan did tonight should go unnoticed. When you talk about a warrior, he epitomizes what he did,” Snyder said, adding that his defense was brilliant even after twisting an ankle .