The Clippers landed in Salt Lake City with almost no time to digest their victory over the Mavericks in Game 7. Two days later, for the best team in the regular season and much more rested. They had a shot to force extra time, but the victory was taken by more successful Jazz in the final stretch and that they showed that they have the resources to make anyone suffer. A saving stopper from Rudy Gobert, who was a clear protagonist of the meeting although not by far the best of the Jazz, in a play in which neither Leonard nor George took the shot and Morris was the one who saw the bolt in place in the first person was what secured the first point of the tie for Quin Snyder’s team. 112-109 was the final score. The wisest of the night, Donovan Mitchell (45).
With the same card as against the Mavs, playing with five little ones and knowing that the opponent has strength on the inside, the tie began. And with a triple from the Jazz, curiously, from the hand of Joe Ingles. Serge Ibaka was short again, still limping from the back, and Lue repeated the formula with which they beat Doncic and his team, but here they started regulating and improved when they had a pivot on the court. At least they are the first sensations. As soon as Ivica Zubac hit the track the Clippers went up. There were even minutes for DeMarcus Cousins, missing in action so far, and with extraordinary performance against Gobert. The Clippers escaped in the first quarter, reaching 60 points in the opening two sets and being thirteen ahead at halftime. Another element that worked in the last series, already at the end, and that served the Angelenos to add almost by inertia is Luke Kennard, who contributed 18 points as a substitute and with only two misses in the shots.
It looked good for Los Angeles, but it was just a sketch. The finish was going to be quite different, especially with Leonard and George again having trouble taking the reins.
With three minutes to go to the end of the third quarter, the difference between the two teams ended up taking off with a counterattack basket from Royce O’Neale. The Jazz were down from 12-11 and in that 72-71 they were promised happily. The intensity matched the caldera feeling that Utah’s court always gives, even if there is still a pandemic and we have to hide. The expert Mike Conley, also on leave due to annoyances, was not there, but these Jazz have taken all their wisdom and controlled the situation well. They even got ten up to half a quarter to go. Donovan Mitchell was largely to blame, not only because he was successful at pitching but because of the options he gave his teammates when he was handicapped. Kawhi Leonard, with two good actions near the rim, and Paul George, with a couple of good plays in attack followed by a triple with half a minute to go, put the necessary claw in that strip but not in the last . Mitchell played the last ball of his team, he missed and gave the Clippers an option, with one possession, to force overtime with a triple, but George delegated to Leonard, Leonard did not receive well and preferred to pass Morris and Morris, without space, received the plug from the immense Rudy Gobert in the left corner to end the confrontation in style and leaving the script open for the second act.