The Utah Jazz were one of the hottest shooting teams in the first round. In Game 1 of their second-round matchup with the Clippers, they cooled off.
Like a 0-for-21 span in the first quarter cold.
But the lid could only stay on the basket for so long.
By the end of the night, they looked like the same team that set the NBA record for made threes this season. Thanks to 45 points from Donovan Mitchell and an incredible defensive sequence and block by Rudy Gobert in the final seconds, the overall No. 1 seed Jazz were able to survive and come away with a 112-109 win.
With his team trailing 60-47 at the half, Mitchell came out determined, opening the third with a 10-2 run of his own on the first four possessions.
The Clippers had no answer for Mitchell in the second half. He scored 32 of his 45 and sparked the Utah comeback.
Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson each had 18 for the Jazz.
Perhaps it was who wasn’t there for Utah that made the difference early.
Mike Conley was ruled out for the game in the morning, and the point guard’s absence was noticeable at the start of the night.
Without their usual facilitator, the Jazz seemed to settle for rough threes and were unable to find an offensive flow. They were 5-for-28 in the first quarter, 5-for-20 from three.
But the Clippers were unable to really take advantage of the slow start from the Jazz.
In the span that the Jazz went 0-21, the Clippers went on a 22-2 run, but still only managed to score 25 in the first quarter.
Stars Show Up Late for LA
Even though the Clippers held a 14-point lead in the first half, the contributions from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George seemed minimal.
They shot 3-for-13 in the first half, and the duo had only combined for 21 points heading into the fourth quarter.
But Leonard shined in every fourth quarter versus Dallas in the first round, and he and George did so in Utah.
They kept the Clippers in the game in the fourth quarter with 22 of the 30 points scored. George brought them within three
Leonard finished with 23 points on 9-for-19 shooting. George struggled from the floor, shooting only 4-for-17, but a 9-for-10 night at the stripe helped him out, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
With Leonard and George quiet to start the night, the Clippers scoring came from an unlikely source.
Luke Kennard averaged less than 8 points per game in the first round, but he had 11 in the first half, the only Clipper in double digits.
Kennard put in 18 points, 7-for-9 from the field. Ivica Zubac had 11 points off the bench along with three blocks, and DeMarcus Cousins, after not playing in round one, had six points in his brief four minutes.
Game 2 of the series is Thursday night in Utah; tip-off is set for 10 pm EST.