The series shifted back to the Staples Center for the all important game 5 between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night. In a 7 game series, the winner of game 5 goes on to win the series 82-percent of the time, so both teams needed to pull out a “W.” Gordon Hayward was back in the starting line up for the Jazz, after not starting and being sent home at halftime of game 4 due to food poisoning, and was a huge factor. He led Utah with 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists, but was helped out by his whole team. Rudy Gobert was back for his second straight game and filled up the stat sheet with 11 points 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. Rodney Hood and George Hill scored 16 and 12 points a piece. While Joe Johnson grabbed 8 rebounds and scored 14 big points, including clutch buckets at the end of the 3rd and 4th quarters, helping lift the Jazz to a 96-92 win, and a 3-2 series lead. For the Clippers, Chris Paul once again led the way with 28 points and 9 assists. J.J. Reddick had a big night with 26 points and 4 rebounds, while DeAndre Jordan chipped in with a double double, scoring 14 points and pulling down 12 boards.
The game started with an alley-oop from Chris Paul to DeAndre Jordan, and the Clippers stormed out to a 7-0 lead right off the bat. The Jazz would answer with an 11-0 run, and we were off to what would be a back and forth affair all game long. Austin Rivers checked in at the 9:39 mark of the 1st quarter, returning from a hamstring injury that cost him 10 games, but he was clearly not in game shape and looked winded at times. The Clippers would find themselves up 21-19 at the end of the 1st, and their bench would hold that small lead for a bit and allow Chris Paul and the rest of the starters to get a bit of rest. Brandon Bass would even see his first minutes of the series, and score on his first field goal attempt. Inevitably though, the Jazz would take the lead 26-25 with 8:32 left in the quarter, and at the 8:13 mark CP3 and DeAndre Jordan checked back into the game. The Clippers would take the lead back 29-28 at the 7:30 mark, but we were all even at 33 with 5:46 to go in the half. The two teams went back and forth, and at halftime the Jazz were up 46-43. The 3rd quarter started off with more back and forth action, and after a made 3 point jumper by J.J. Reddick at the 8:27 mark, we were all tied at 50. Gordon Hayward hit a jumper with 5:56 to go, then we got some really ugly basketball from both teams. Neither team would score til the 3:10 mark, when Austin Rivers sank a pair of free throws, making it 55-54 in favor of the Jazz. The games next field goal wouldn’t come til the 2:07 mark. Despite the ugly play, the Jazz ended the quarter strong. Joe Johnson scored 5 points in the last 90 seconds, and Gordon Hayward beat the buzzer with a dunk, putting Utah up 64-58.
For as hard as the third quarter was to watch at some points, the fourth quarter was extremely entertaining. Derrick Favors got things started with a dunk that put the Jazz up 66-58. Chris Paul checked back into the game at the 11:17 mark, a lot earlier than usual, but the Clippers desperately needed him at the time. DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Reddick would rejoin him with 10:40 to go in the game. At the 10:24 mark, Rodney Hood made a 3 point basket, putting the Jazz up 69-58, and it looked like Utah was about to pull away. Paul was not about to go out without a fight. The Clipper Captain led his squad on an 11-0 run, and at the 7:43 mark of the 4th quarter, we were all tied, 69-69. In what would turn out to be the recurring theme of the game, the Jazz would answer back. This time with an 8-0 run, finding themselves back up 77-69 with 6:14 to go in the game. The Clippers would keep fighting, with CP3 leading the charge, but in the end the Jazz were just too much on this given night. The big stat of the series so far has been points in the paint. In the first 5 games the team that’s won the battle inside the painted area has won the game. The Jazz edged the Clippers 34-28 on Tuesday night inside the paint. The Clippers will travel to Utah now and try to force a game 7 back in Los Angeles, but to do that, they’re going to have retake control of the paint.
Game 6 is Thursday at 7:30 pm PT on TNT
Baseline Times Staff Writer