Emptying the Noggin — The Jazz had every answer

Summary: The Jazz withstood the Clippers’ furry and numerous adjustments to hold onto a vital Game 5 win in gutty fashion.

  • What an incredible win. Ron Boone said it best right after the game: This team showed fight tonight. The Clippers came after the Jazz tonight and the Jazz were the better team with every answer.


  • The key stretch of the game was when the Jazz took an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter. The Clippers rallied on a 11-0 run, got five free throws from Redick before Chris Paul hit back-to-back 3s to tie the game with 7:43 to play. The Jazz came out of the timeout with a Hayward 17-footer and then Hood hit a 3, followed by a Hayward 3 while getting back-to-back stops to take the lead back to eight points. The Clippers never got the ball with a chance to tie after that.


  • The two biggest plays of the game were when the Jazz were up by two points with 3:04 left and George Hill missed a 3. Gordon Hayward flew in and tapped the rebound out to Joe Johnson, who put the Jazz back up by five points with a 3. A three-point game, George Hill and Hayward went to the ground to get an offensive rebound got tangled up with Chris Paul and drew the foul on Paul. Hayward then hit two free throws to put the lead back to five points. Both of these were relentless hustle plays.


  • Joe Johnson did it again. With :36 left in the game, the Jazz were up by two points with the ball and the Clippers were guaranteed another possession. Joe Johnson took it to the middle of the lane and faded back from 13 feet and hit the shot to put the Jazz up by five with :19 seconds left.


  • Hayward was terrific again. He had 11 points in the first quarter and finished with 27 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.


  • This was a defensive game. The last two games were all offense, tonight was defense. Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Jordan had a huge impact on the game and the ability of either team to get where they want to go on the floor.


  • The Jazz only allowed three offensive rebounds tonight in 39 chances and only four second-chance points.


  • The Clippers made a ton of adjustments: They trapped the Jazz on pick and rolls, they doubled Joe Johnson and they played with really small lineups. The Jazz had answers to each of these. The double teams and traps gave the Jazz some issues early, and then they settled down. The Jazz got a ton of 3-point attempts off the Clippers actions and took 36 3-pointers over the course of the game. They got a ton of open looks that they will take in any game, but only made 13. Those same looks are going down at home.


  • The Clippers started Mo Speights in the first half and then tried Paul Pierce in the second half. Boris Diaw actually went at Pierce on a few possessions.


  • Austin Rivers returned and helped the Clippers’ lineups defensively. They are able to have good defensive crews on the floor which they couldn’t do before Rivers returned.


  • Rudy Gobert had five steals.


  • Quin Snyder’s use of personnel, plays out of timeouts and game planning cannot be underestimated in this series. Quin is putting out lineups that are giving the Jazz a slight edge throughout the game, getting matchups that he wants and are advantageous to the Jazz.


  • The Jazz were +7 when Chris Paul was on the bench for the 10 minutes he sat tonight; The Jazz were +14 in the eight minutes DeAndre Jordan sat.


  • The fourth was an offensive quarter; The Jazz went 9 of 19 with five 3-pointers while hitting 9 of 10 from the line (super clutch from George Hill and Gordon Hayward) and the Clippers went 9 of 15 with four 3-pointers while hitting on 12 of 15 free throws.


  • The Jazz went dry early and missed eight straight shots to close the first quarter, or they would have been in control earlier.


  • The Jazz took control in the second, stretched it in the third and then after the Clippers’ flurry, controlled the fourth.


  • Game 6 is going to be really interesting. I don’t know what the next move from the Clippers is going to be. It feels like they tried a lot of things tonight and I am not sure they made any progress in dealing with Hayward or Johnson, and if the Jazz knock down some of the open looks they got when they’re at home, it could get very exciting.


  • Winning Game 5 was a must and the Jazz got it done.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — An incredible win, an incredible series

Summary: Down by seven with 7:37 left and trailing the series two games to one, Joe Johnson checked in the game and the series changed possibly forever. The Jazz win it, 105-98, and tie the series at two games apiece.

  • This is incredible. INCREDIBLE. INSANE. REMARKABLE. MIND-BLOWING. This team… How do they do it? Joe Ingles said it after the game, they have no choice, but at some point you would think they would blink. You would think they would say, okay you gave us that 800th punch to the gut and it was more than we can handle. They are unbreakable. Rudy Gobert goes down 11 seconds into the series and they win Game 1. Chris Paul rips their heart out at the end of Game 3 and then Gordon Hayward is struck by food poisoning and somehow this team manages to find a win.
  • This series has had more turns that a ride at Magic Mountain. All of a sudden, despite playing two of the next three on the road in LA, there is a possibility this series is pointing in the favor of the Jazz. For the first three games of the series, when the Jazz were without Rudy Gobert, the Clippers were the better team. With the Jazz getting Gobert healthy and the Clippers without Griffin, there is a legitimate chance the Jazz are the better team.
  • The Jazz trailed 87-80. The Clippers were having their way. Chris Paul was on the verge of a triple-double. Jamal Crawford was having his night. The Jazz couldn’t get stops and losing tonight felt like the end. Then came Joe Johnson. Joe hit an 8-foot floater, followed it with a 3, another floater then a tough turnaround jumper and the Jazz had tied the game at 87-87. He wasn’t done. He hit another paint floater to make it 11 straight points. Ingles followed with a 3 on a Joe Johnson pass and the Jazz were up two points. Joe kept dishing with a pass to Hood for a 3 and the Jazz were up by 5 with 2:13.
  • There was a cool moment after the game when Joe Ingles circled back to find Derrick Favors who had a tough Game 3, but has given this team everything he has had the last four games and tonight was incredible. Favors had 17 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes. Favors was active and terrific. Doc Rivers singled Derrick Favors out for his huge game.
  • Rudy Gobert returned and played 24 minutes. His impact was obvious he had 15 points and 13 rebounds.
  • The Jazz have figured out how to score in this series. The Jazz couldn’t score in the regular season or much of Game 1 in this series, so that’s big. Now, on back to back nights, they had an offensive rating near 120.
  • Joe Johnson: 28 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. This is a really special player. He had 12 of 17 shooting. Joe Johnson is 22 of 29 in the paint this series.
  • Gordon Hayward had food poisoning and played just nine minutes. He left the bench with about five minutes left in the first half and at halftime, Quin Snyder said Gordon was throwing up.
  • Joe Ingles had a career-high 11 assists. He did a wonderful job running the high pick and roll.
  • Chris Paul is remarkable. He was so dominant at the end of Game 3. Moreover, in that game he saved the game on two different occasions when the Jazz had all the momentum. He did the same thing tonight on two different occasions when the Jazz had the momentum and the crowd was going bananas. He feels the game better than anyone I have seen in the NBA. He is incredible. Maybe he didn’t have a sixth save in him tonight.
  • The Clippers offense died in the fourth quarter. They did a nice job of getting the ball out of Chris Paul’s hands.
  • The Jazz made some really cool adjustments to stop the roll of DeAndre Jordan tonight. It will be interesting to see if they can hold for the next three games of the series.
  • Rivers went small with Luc Mbah a Moute at the four to cover Joe Johnson and played Paul, Crawfod and JJ Redick with DeAndre Jordan. The Jazz are short on wings without Hayward and Burks. The Clippers really miss Austin Rivers when they go to these lineups. He would change who they are. The Jazz were able to counter this lineup.
  • Rodney Hood was having a brutal night and then he nailed enormous shots. He doesn’t have big game experience and it seemed like the environment might be getting to him. Instead — and in a manner that represents the team not having another choice ­­— Quin didn’t have another choice, and Rodney had to keep going so he had no choice, and he made two enormous plays.
  • Dante Exum played and hit an incredible 3 that in a game that was big.
  • Mo Speights missed a 3 that would have given the Clippers a 10-point lead. It was the only possession all night where either team could have taken a double-digit lead.
  • This was an incredible win in what is an incredible series in what has been a season without reason.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – So much right until it wasn’t

Summary: This was a crushing loss for the Jazz on a night where almost everything went well until things came undone during a 15-0 run by the Clippers in the fourth quarter. The Jazz lost Game 3, 111-106.

  • The team that wins Game 3 wins the series 74% of the time, so there is no doubt how much this one hurts.
  • The Jazz did so many things well tonight. They got off to a great start, led by Hayward’s incredible first quarter. They got a superstar game they needed from Gordon Hayward and played with better spacing, take 34 3-point shots. Dang it. They did so many things well tonight and then the drought happened.
  • The Jazz went cold at the 7:50 mark of the fourth quarter. They got stuck in isolation basketball and the Jazz are not a good isolation team (27th in the NBA this season). They went over five minutes without a field goal and Chris Paul took over the game in that stretch. The Clippers went on a 15-0 run and that won the game for the Clippers.
  • Chris Paul finished with 34 points. His understanding of time and score is remarkable. In the first half with the game seemingly slipping away, he willed the Clippers back into the game on two occasions. With Blake Griffin out, Paul took 15 shots in the second half. He is the best in the NBA at what he does and it showed tonight.
  • Gordon Hayward had a remarkable night. He set a Jazz playoff record with 21 points in a quarter to open the game. He finished with 40 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. He scored 40 points on 21 shots. He went to the line 11 times. He was outstanding. The Jazz ran a ton of actions and got him on back doors, got him freed off Favors picks and found ways to get him space. Hayward picked up his second foul early in the quarter and Quin Snyder decided to roll with him and he made that move look remarkable.
  • Derrick Favors played a season high 38 minutes against DeAndre Jordan. Derrick has never wanted to be a center. He has always said he is not a center. This series, he is matching up against the biggest center in the NBA and the wear and tear is evident.
  • Blake Griffin went out of the game late in the second quarter. The problem with this is it means the Clippers’ offense becomes almost exclusively pick and roll with Chris Paul, and the Jazz are not defending that action very well. They tried a little bit of everything tonight and I don’t think they found an answer. Favors is not capable of playing a drop big and defend the rim from DeAndre Jordan. The hedging or playing the pick roll square have not been a great answer.
  • Raul Neto played the back-up point guard minutes in the second half and made two huge shots (for 5 points) in three minutes.
  • The Jazz put a lot of focus on floor spacing and getting open catch-and-shoot looks over the last few days and they got 34 3-point attempts tonight. Many of them were catch-and-shoot. There were great adjustments to how the Jazz were running some actions.
  • This was a purely offensive game. Both teams had offensive ratings over 120. The Jazz figured out how to score on the Clippers tonight, something that has been an issue through the year. The adjustments made by Quin Snyder were terrific.
  • George Hill got his offense going tonight hitting on 9 of 15 and 4 of 6 from 3 for 26 points.
  • The Jazz switched defensive assignments with Joe ingles guarding Chris Paul and George Hill guarding JJ Redick. Redick stayed quiet again tonight going just 2 for 5.
  • Jamal Crawford got rolling for a stint in the third quarter and it gave the Clippers a bounce they haven’t been getting. He hit three straight shots.
  • The Jazz led the game by 13 at the end of the first quarter, by nine at the half, by two points heading to the fourth and lost by give. The Clippers swung the game 18 points in the final 36 minutes but almost all of it was in the 15-0 run in the fourth quarter.
  • Chris Paul had 10 points and 0 assists in the fourth quarter
  • The crowd was amazing. The building had an energy 45 minutes before tipoff and it never stopped. Five years of waiting for this night and the fan base showed its best performance.
  • This one stings. To win the series, the Jazz have to win another one back in LA now. The Jazz got an all-time performance from Gordon Hayward, they found a way to score on the Clippers and Chris Paul was still too good to be denied.
  • See you Sunday.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Jazz fall in Game 2 to Clippers

Summary: The Clippers hit the Jazz with a hammer early and the Jazz never could break through and put pressure on and LA, falling in Game 2 — 99-91.

  • The Jazz showed a lot of the same fight and resiliency that won them Game 1, but they weren’t able to make enough plays to gain control of the game. They cut the game to six points on six different occasions in the fourth quarter, but were never able to make the Clippers feel the heat. It would have been really interesting to see if the Clippers would have gotten tight.
  • The Jazz had three shots that felt like they would have changed the game that were all great looks and they didn’t go. George Hill had a half wide open transition 3 at the end of the first that would have cut it to four points. At 8:44 in the fourth quarter, Joe Johnson got a great look that would have cut it to four points but missed, and with 5:51 left Hayward had a great look off of an Ingles steal that would have cut it to three points.
  • The Clippers played with great force early in the game. They came out a ball of fire, ran the floor and played with great tempo. This subsided as the game went on, but it will be interesting to see if they can maintain it at altitude. They came out like a team playing to survive.
  • Chris Paul is the best player in this series, Blake Griffin might be the second best and that is going to be a really tough issue for the Jazz throughout the series. Paul is particularly tough. He has seen everything that a team can throw at him. He is able to get where he wants to go on the floor despite the Jazz trying to work him into his weaknesses.
  • DeAndre Jordan was a beast tonight. He was able to get behind the defense and play above the rim. He had seven dunks. This is certainly a case of not having Rudy Gobert. Derrick Favors does a ton of things well, but he is not great at protecting the rim in the drop pick-and-roll coverage. I am not sure how the Jazz solve this issue the rest of the series without Rudy.
  • One other area of concern is the Jazz only got three offensive rebounds in the game tonight. It is really hard for the Jazz to have a good offensive night without some action on the offensive glass. The offensive rating tonight was a 103. It probably needs to be over 108 to win games in this series, maybe 100 without Rudy. If the Jazz could get one more offensive rebound a quarter and convert three of them, they hit that number. With Rudy, the offensive rebounding is a large part of the Jazz’s offense. Without it, the Jazz move from an average offense to a below average offensive team. The catch is the Jazz are really trying to get back defensively.
  • I loved that the Jazz got a bunch of 3-point looks tonight. This has been a real problem for the Jazz in their five games versus the Clippers. If the Jazz can start to get those shots off, then their margin for having a good night is greater. The Jazz took 25 of 70 shots (36%) from behind the arc. This is a big development for the rest of the series.
  • The Clippers defended Joe Johnson a bit differently, digging more and not letting him have as much space.
  • The Clippers are really missing Austin Rivers. If he returns, it is a big advantage for the Clippers.
  • Jamal Crawford and JJ Redick went 5 of 19 from the field. These guys have really been struggling in the last 11 playoff games for the Clippers. It’s a bad script for LA.
  • The Clippers’ starting lineup is the second best five-man lineup in the NBA and they were +12 tonight with the starters on the floor and -4 when they were off.
  • A huge stretch of the game was closing the first half when Chris Paul got his third foul and in the final 3:33 with Paul on the bench the Clippers stretched the lead by one rather than the Jazz making inroads to make the game close.
  • The Clippers had 60 points in paint after having 40 in Game 1.
  • This is going to be really tough without Gobert. It takes away a lot of the Jazz’s offense with the rim-rolls and the offensive rebounding, not to mention his impact on defense. I haven’t looked at the numbers, but the Jazz have not shown they can defend when Withey is at center in this series.
  • If the Jazz continue to play that hard and with that focus, they have a chance in this series. This was a good performance with a lot of positives.
  • Be loud Friday.