NBA: Clippers lose Game 1 when Jazz's Donovan Mitchell scores 45
Salt Lake City, Utah – Marcus Morris saw Utah's Bogdan Bogdanovic coming from the other side of the Clippers' defense and bided his time before leaping to send the Jazz forward's shot attempt out of bounds.
Yelling in Bogdanovic’s face, he drew a technical foul. Ill-advised? Sure. But the message seemed clear. Two days after surviving a seven-game series, the Clippers had arrived at Vivint Arena tired but swaggering.
They were here because, over the course of the previous week, they had become the unbeatable Clippers. Given two chances to put away the first-round series for good, Dallas could not capitalize.
With five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, however, the Clippers could not be heard amid the decibel-blasting arena, and their scorers could not keep up in a 112-109 loss to the Jazz.
Bogdanovic stepped into a 3-pointer atop the arc, and this time a second defender had no chance of helping Luke Kennard. Bogdanovic’s three-pointer pushed Utah’s lead to 10, and he walked into a timeout with each hand pointing to a side.
The Clippers lost their early lead
The Clippers’ 14-point, first-half lead had disappeared as they saw Utah take a page from their blueprint and rally during a game that set the tone for a punishing second-round series ahead between Utah, the West’s top team, and the red-hot Clippers.
Donovan Mitchell ignited the comeback from down 10 at halftime with 16 points in the third quarter and 45 in the game, looking every bit like the one-man offensive destroyer that Luka Doncic was for Dallas.
The Clippers’ stars, meanwhile, fought fatigue and inconsistency, with Paul George just 4-for-17 shooting from the field in the game while Kawhi Leonard was 9-for-19 shooting as both battled foul trouble. They combined to shoot 4 of 17 from 3-point range.
They still had a chance with a furious finish to tie the score, but neither George nor Leonard, working a two-man game, could get free at the top of the arc. Leonard made a pass to Morris in the left corner for a 3-pointer, but Jazz center Rudy Gobert blocked it just before the buzzer.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday in Utah.
Cover photo: IMAGO / Icon SMI