It was win or go home for the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night in Utah. While the Jazz were looking to close out the series in 6 games, and advance to the 2nd round for the first time since 2010. In hopes of giving his team a spark, Clippers Head Coach, Doc Rivers, inserted his son, Austin Rivers, into the staring line up. It was only River’s second game back after returning from a hamstring injury. However, he’s no stranger to starting, as he started 29 games for the Clippers during the regular season. The game opened up with a 3 pointer from J.J. Reddick, but by the the 9:12 mark of the 1st quarter, Gordon Hayward was dunking the ball and giving the Jazz a 9-3 lead. Chris Paul would answer with a 3 point bucket and an opportunity at a 4 point play, but he missed the free throw. Paul would start heating up a bit, but the Jazz were in pretty firm control during for most of the first quarter. Right at the end though, it would be the Clippers’ role players who would come through with a flurry of offense. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Marreese Speights would score 7 points and help Los Angeles cut the Utah lead to only 2 points, 22-20.
At the start of the 2nd quarter, the Clippers would continue to build momentum. A Jazz turnover and an Austin Rivers jumper tied the game, 22-22. From there, this game would begin to resemble the other games in the series. It went back and forth, with neither team being able to get the upperhand. The Clippers’ role players, specifically Speights and Mbah a Moute, really helped carry the load early in the 2nd quarter, and allowed CP3 to get a bit of a rest. When he returned, he jumped right into a back and forth game. After a CP3 bucket at the 5:31 mark, we were tied again, 36-36. At the 3:01 mark, Rudy Gobert blocked Chris Paul and got the crowd hyped, but Paul and the Clippers were unfazed. In fact, Paul hit a jumper with 1:28 to go that put the Clippers up 45-43. After a couple of made DeAndre Jordan free throws (he actually made them both for once), the Clippers would go into the half up 47-45, but it was really anyone’s game at that point. Rudy Gobert led the Jazz with 10 points and 5 rebounds in the first half. For the Clippers, it was CP3 leading the way with 15 points. While both, Marreese Speights and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute chipped in with 9 points.
The 3rd quarter took a bit to start because of net issues, but when it finally got underway, Rudy Gobert would score and tie the game right back up. Both teams would start the quarter sloppy, and it looked like we were in store for another quarter of hard to watch basketball, just like game 5’s 3rd quarter. Both teams settled down however, and by the 8:22 mark when CP3 hit a jumper and tied the game up at 51-51, we were getting an entertaining game again. Chris Paul hit a 3 point jumper with 5:52 to go in the 3rd quarter, and put the Clippers up 3, sparking a bit of a run for them. A Jamal Crawford floater made it 69-61 with 3:30 to go in the 3rd quarter. Then, CP3 hit a 3 pointer at the 2:20 mark that put Los Angeles up 11, 74-63. As if the Clippers’ offense wasn’t already putting enough preasure on the Utah defense, Rudy Gobert rolled his ankle with 35.6 to go in the 3rd. The Clippers ended the quarter up 78-70. Gobert would start the 4th quarter on the bench, and would play sparingly for the rest of the game. He was clearly bothered by the ankle injury. The Jazz kept fighting without their All-Star though. A George Hill 3 cut the Clipper lead to 74-80 with 8:57 to go in the game. Gordon Heywars and Rudy Gobert would re enter the game at the 7:16 mark, and Gilbert would even get a block, but he wasn’t the same. The Clippers would build their lead back up to 10 with 6:30 to go in the game. They held the largest lead by either team in the series at the 3:45 mark of the 4th quarter when they led 91-77, but Utah would go on a 7-0 run and cut it to 6. Austin River hit what looked like a dagger 3 with 1:29 left in the game, but miraculously the Jazz would rally and cut the lead to only 3 with 46.3 to go in the game. In the end though, Joe Johnson missed a 3 poi ter the would’ve tied the game and CP3 hit two free throws to ice the game and force a game 7. Paul ended the game with 29 points and 8 asssists. Austin’s River’s helped out with 13 points and 4 rebounds, while DeAndre Jordan also chipped in 13 points and 18 big rebounds. For the Jazz, Gordon Heyward led the way with 31 points and 7 rebounds, while George Hill contributed 22 points and 5 rebounds. The big news for Utah will be the health of Rudy Gibert heading into game 7. Should he be forced to sit out, it would be huge for the Clippers.
Game 7 is Sunday at 3:30 pm EST on ABC.