Leading by four with just over two minutes left, a Bojan Bogdanovic 3 and Donovan Mitchell jumper sealed the Utah Jazz’s 120-107 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Utah improves to 20-12 overall, while the Clippers fall to 23-11.
The Jazz shot 48.6 percent from the 3-point line and 52.3 percent from the field.
“When you shoot poorly and the other team never gets below fifty [percent shooting], you’re probably going to lose the game,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said.
Mitchell hit four 3s and scored 30 points. He also distributed nine assists and grabbed seven rebounds. Joe Ingles added 15 points, scorching five 3s. Newly acquired guard Jordan Clarkson scored 19 points off the bench in 25 minutes.
Four Clipper starters scored in double digits. Paul George put up 20, Kawhi Leonard recorded 19 – 14 in the second quarter – Ivica Zubac posted 15 and Beverley scored 12. Leonard also finished with six assists and two steals.
George shot just 6-of-20. A bug, reportedly the flu, has spread amongst the Clippers. Montrezl Harrell didn’t play due to illness. Leonard said he’s been impacted by the bug as well.
“That felt sh***y tonight,” George said in regards to his health. “Tonight was a rough one.”
Zubac and Beverley scored 21 of the Clippers first 24 points. Zubac’s 12 first quarter points were the most he’d scored in one quarter and his seven offensive rebounds were the most in a quarter by any NBA player this season.
“[Zubac] was great, he kept possessions alive,” George said. Rivers added, “[Zubac] single handedly kept us in the first quarter with all those offensive rebounds.”
The Clippers made 25 of their 27 free throws and snatched nine steals.
Lou Williams and Landry Shamet combined for 29 points off the Clipper bench. Shamet hit his 200th career 3-pointer and posted seven points in the first half.
Beverley hit the deck after driving down the right lane in the third quarter and ran straight to the locker room, holding his right wrist. Beverley would return for the start of the fourth quarter, swatting Georges Niang’s runner less than two minutes into the period.
In terms of Beverley’s status going forward, Rivers said, “I don’t know, honestly. I know he did an x-ray so we know that there was no break, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to be out or not because it could be bruised.”
Williams scored back-to-back buckets to begin the fourth quarter, as the Clippers snatched the lead back at 96-93. Mitchell faked, drove right baseline and skied for a ferocious slam to put Utah back up by one. Less than five minutes remained as Clarkson split the middle of the floor and finger rolled for two, extending the Jazz’s lead to 109-102.
Mitchell nailed back-to-back 3-pointers from 27 and 24 feet to cut the Clipper lead to 63-61 at the half. Utah shot 50 percent from the field and beyond the arc in the first half.
“With [the Jazz’s] ability to spread the floor, it makes it dangerous for you to guard anybody on the Utah Jazz,” Beverley said.
L.A. ended the half with 12 offensive rebounds, 13 assists and five steals. Mitchell scored 12 points and dished out eight assists by halftime.
Utah opened the game on a 7-2 run and forward Joe Ingles came out on fire, hitting his first three 3-point attempts. The Clippers responded well to Utah’s initial run behind nine quick points from Beverley and 10 from Zubac. The Clippers outrebounded Utah 22-9 in the first quarter and took a 12-point lead into the second.
Utah opened the second quarter on a 13-3 run and scored 39 points, but Leonard’s red-hot second quarter performance kept the Clippers ahead. A Clarkson four-point play gave him 13 points in 13 minutes off the Jazz bench.
Utah’s hot outside shooting continued in the first moments of the third quarter. O’Neale and Ingles hit 3-pointers, but Leonard responded with a 3 of his own to halt a 9-3 Jazz run. A Mitchell 3-pointer soon after put the Jazz at over 54 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Bogdanovic dunked to give Utah a six-point lead.
Mitchell nailed Utah’s sixth 3 of the third quarter to put the Jazz up double digits.
“Donovan [Mitchell] is a rising star,” George said. “He’s been a playmaker. He’s been their scorer. He’s been their reliable guy. You’ve got a young guy with a lot of talent. He’s ready and poised for stardom.”
Staples Center applauded as Beverley returned to the Clipper bench for the final ticks of the quarter. George splashed a 3 to send L.A. into the fourth trailing by one.
“We had a chance to win the game,” Leonard said. “We missed some open shots, but [the team’s sickness] would just affect probably our energy.”
The Clippers head to Sacramento for a New Year’s Eve date with the Kings (12-19), while Utah return to Salt Lake City for a clash with Detroit (12-20). Saturday night marked the Clippers’ final home game of the 2010s decade. For L.A., 2020 begins January 2 at home against the Pistons.
Blake Atwell is a multimedia journalist and sophomore at Santa Monica College.