Despite coming off a grueling seven-game series against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers did not show any signs of fatigue early in the series-opener against the well-rested Utah Jazz.
Led by superstar forward Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers capitalized on the Jazz’s sluggish start and the absence of Jazz guard Mike Conley, who was sidelined due to a hamstring injury, as they built a 13-point lead at halftime.
However, the Clippers squandered their double-digit lead as Jazz star Donovan Mitchell took over and unleashed 32 of his game-high 45 points in the second half.
The Clippers had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Jazz center Rudy Gobert proved why he is the league’s Defensive Player of the Year as he swatted Marcus Morris’ three-pointer with two seconds remaining to secure the 112-109 victory at home.
Aside from Mitchell’s dazzling second-half explosion, the Jazz also got plenty of firepower from NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic, who chipped in 18 points apiece.
On the other hand, if the Clippers look to tie the series at 1-1, they will need more contribution from All-Star forward Paul George, who finished with 20 points on a dismal 4-of-17 shooting from the field.
After a wild Game 1 finish at Utah, will the Clippers bounce back and steal a victory on the road, or will the Jazz take a commanding 2-0 series lead?
Game time is 10 am on Friday, June 11, Manila time.