The Los Angeles Clippers-Utah Jazz preseason game Wednesday was one of those games that proved basketball is all about runs.
In the middle of the second quarter the Clips were up by two (30-28) as both teams battled back and forth, showing solid defense, inside play and the ability to run in the fast break. Then the Jazz took the last element–running the break– to a whole new level.Utah ran a full-court clinic resulting in 15 fast break points for the game. Their marathons gave them a 15-point lead by the end of the first half.
The Clippers went on a 21-5 run to take a 66-62 lead with a minute left in the third quarter and maintained the “we will win at all costs” mentality as they finished out the game with a 96-94 victory.
Superstar Blake Griffin started the charge in the third quarter by scoring 11 of his game-high 23 points. Eric Bledsoe added intense defense on the perimeter and Chris Paul carved up the Jazz’s interior defense.
The plus side is the Clippers have a rough edge about them this season that will keep them in every game, even if there are defensive meltdowns or poor shooting percentages. At this point in the preseason LA has shown they can be gritty, flashy and will not give up. The off-season veteran pickups of Crawford, Willie Green, Matt Barnes and Ronny Turiaf were definitely part of the comeback and the rough edge.
Jamal Crawford came off the bench for the Clips and dropped 18 points on the Jazz, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
Green hit a big three in the corner to keep the momentum in the Clippers favor as they rallied within four of the Jazz. Barnes hit the glass finishing with seven rebounds in the game and Turiaf was the hard-nosed interior defender I said he would be in the season preview. He finished with a steal, two blocks and three rebounds in 19-minutes.
The downside coming from the Utah game is the Clippers lose focus. They were in the game from the beginning, but then dropped their guard on both sides of the ball. They allowed the Jazz to run all over them–who were a notorious front court, slow tempo team last season–and had little ball movement on a couple of offensive possessions.
Sure, Chris Paul wasn’t in the game, but LA can not rely on CP3 to carry them everytime the team gets in a hairy situation.
They pulled out the preseason win with great play from Crawford, Griffin, Paul and DeAndre Jordan’s 16 rebounds, but there are some obvious rotation schemes the Clippers have to work on and they need to play four quarters of NBA basketball instead of two and a half.
Against a better team, the Clippers would probably have lost.