Youth, inexperience and a lack of talent showed tonight for the Utah Jazz as they were defeated by the Los Angeles Clippers 106-74. The opposite showed for the Clippers. Led by DeAndre Jordan, this Los Angeles squad were in mid-season form.
Well you usually wouldn’t say that about a DAJ led squad, but he’s been living up to all the hype and expectations that have been penned on him this summer. Jordan followed up his 16 point, 4 block performance against the Portland Trailblazers with a 16 points, 8 rebound 6 block night as he went toe-to-toe with the Jazz’s center of the future in Enes Kanter. While it is just the preseason, Jordan’s looking like the player that the Clippers expected when they matched the 4 years, $43 million contract the Golden State Warriors offered the big man. He’s defending the paint, altering shots and has shown some ability to defend bigger players in Kanter. If this is what he’ll look like for an entire 82-games plus we may be looking at the Western Conference’s representative for the NBA finals.
And with Jordan leading the rest of the Clippers followed. This team is beginning to look less like a team that had Vinny Del Negro as the head coach last season. A lot of movement is being installed in Doc Rivers offense and it’s showing. Chris Paul finished the night with a mere 6 points, but grabbed 10 assists in 23 minutes of play.
The biggest scare of the night came in the first quarter when Blake Griffin tweaked his ankle after coming down on a defenders foot after a shot. The team diagnosed it as a right ankle sprain, but Griffin later returned to the game and looked like his normal self. Something to note is that Rivers has Griffin very involved in the offense, running him off screens to stretch the defense. Whether this will remain a staple in the offense will rely on Griffin’s ability to knock down the mid-range jump shot a la Kevin Garnett though things did look good for Blake tonight.
The Utah Jazz’s core players were solid tonight, but once the reserve group came in they couldn’t match up with the Clippers starters or reserve players. Darren Collison finished the night with 10 assists and Byron Mullens scored a game-high 15 points on 5-10 shooting (3-7 from three). Playing on the weak side of the pick and roll got Mullens some nice looks.
Of the Jazz’s young core, Trey Burke, the teams’ first round pick, looked solid, but his night was ended after fracturing a finger that could require surgery in the immediate future.
(h/t: CBS Sports)
This throws a wrench in the Jazz’s season though it could get them closer to a franchise-changing player in the 2014 NBA Draft. The other three staples in this franchise (Hayward, Kanyer, Favors) had a rough outing shooting a combined 6-of-28 for 17 points. Each player had a +/- of -15 or higher, which isn’t encouraging.
As I mentioned in the game preview, the Los Angeles Clippers have four games in the next seven days. With a day of rest likely coming tomorrow, the team will head to the Sleep Train Arena to take on a Demarcus Cousins-led Sacramento Kings which is the first of a back-to-back that ends in Phoenix.