NBA playoffs

Jazz hold off Clippers to take 2-0 series lead

Jazz hold off Clippers to take 2-0 series lead

ACTION-PACKED. Clippers forward Nicolas Batum (top right) hits the ball away from Jazz center Derrick Favors in Game 2 action.

Chris Nicoll/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson sizzle from beyond the arc as the Jazz outlast the rallying Clippers

Donovan Mitchell followed up his Game 1 masterpiece with a 37-point performance to lead the Utah Jazz to a 117-111 victory and a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals in Salt Lake City, Thursday night, June 10 (Friday, June 11, Manila time).  

Mitchell scored 27 points in the first half, helping Utah establish momentum early on, and then made a clutch shot in the waning moments to help the Jazz win their sixth straight game this postseason.

Jordan Clarkson added 24 points for the Jazz. Clarkson, the Sixth Man of the Year, and Mitchell each tallied six three-pointers as Utah tied a franchise playoff-record with 20 from beyond the arc on a sizzling 51.3% shooting.

Joe Ingles started in place of injured All-Star point guard Mike Conley, who missed his second straight game with a strained right hamstring. 

Ingles scored 19 with four three-pointers, while fellow starter Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points with three triples.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert received his third NBA Defensive Player of the Year trophy before the game, then he showed why he earned it, with another solid showing on defense. Gobert finished with 13 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, and 2 steals.

Reggie Jackson lit up the Jazz for 29 points and Paul George scored 27, but the Clippers didn’t quite have enough left in the tank after rallying out of a 21-point, second-half deficit to momentarily take the lead in the fourth quarter.

Kawhi Leonard added 21 points for the Clippers, who find themselves down 2-0 for the second series in a row. This time, however, LA will return home for Game 3, which will take place Saturday night at Staples Center.

The third quarter was quite the roller-coaster. The Jazz exploded to their biggest lead at 76-55 only to see that huge lead fizzle down to four points later in the quarter as Jackson and George heated up after Utah’s surge. The Clippers used a stifling zone defense to squelch the Jazz’s hot shooting.

After Utah took its biggest lead, LA responded with a 12-0 run.

But Clarkson hit back-to-back three-pointers to help Utah slow the Clippers’ momentum, and the Jazz took a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter.

The Clippers continued their surge early in the final period as Leonard stole the ball on one end and raced downcourt to slam it in on the other end. 

Jackson then hit consecutive three-pointers as Los Angeles took its only lead of the game, 101-99.

Utah called a timeout and quickly regained the lead at 104-101 after Ingles scooped in a shot that hit the top of the backboard and plopped into the net and Bogdanovic followed with a triple.

The Jazz stretched the lead to 113-103 with three minutes remaining after a three-point play by Gobert and three-pointers from Royce O’Neale and Ingles.

Just like Game 1, though, the Clippers got back into it with a Jackson dunk and a three-point play by George. But Mitchell answered with a tough drive and a free throw to give Utah just enough cushion.

Mitchell started where he left off in Game 1, hitting shot after shot to lead the Jazz to an early lead. He scored 14 points in the first quarter and then added 13 in the second quarter, including a last-second three-pointer that gave Utah a 13-point halftime lead. –