#702 Los Angeles Clippersvs.#701 Utah Jazz
Written by Chris Kubala
NBA: Sunday, October 30, 2016, Staples Center, Los Angeles, California, 4:30 pm ET
Line: Los Angeles -8; Over/Under: 195
It’s a matchup of Western Conference foes in the City of Angels. The Utah Jazz travel west to battle the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday afternoon. Utah knocked off the other LA team, the Lakers, 96-89, in their home opener Friday night to get in the win column. Los Angeles knocked off Portland 114-106 on the road in their season opener Thursday night. Utah holds a 99-74 advantage in the all-time regular season series but the Clippers won 15 of the last 16 meetings. The Jazz did win the last meeting in the Staples Center, taking a 102-91 triumph on November 25, 2015.
Utah found itself tied with the Lakers after three quarters after leading by five points at the half. In the fourth quarter, the Jazz outscored the Lakers 31-24 to get their first win of the season. George Hill led five Utah players in double figures with 23 points in the victory. Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors (nine boards in his season debut) each had 15 points in the contest. Rudy Gobert was a force in the paint, scoring 13 points, collecting 13 rebounds and blocking four shots. Joe Johnson chipped in 11 for the Jazz, who won despite still being without Gordon Hayward. Utah won despite shooting 41.3 percent from the floor and a 6 of 25 shooting night from three point range. The Jazz stifled the Lakers, holding them to 38.1 percent shooting from the field. Utah’s big advantage came at the line: the Jazz went 28 of 40 at the stripe while Los Angeles was 16 of 21.
The Jazz enter this contest tied for 21st in scoring offense with 100 points per game. Utah is dead last in the league in rebounding with 39 boards per game. Some of that can be attributed to solid shooting by both teams in their opener. The Jazz is 27th in the league in assists with 16.5 per contest. Hill leads five Utah players in double figures with 21 points plus 4.5 assists per game. Hood scores 20.5 points a night, Johnson puts up 20 points a game while Favors is averaging 15 points. Gobert is averaging 12.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and three blocks per game in the low block. Shelvin Mack, Trey Lyles, Dante Exum and Boris Diaw have to help hold down the fort until Hayward returns. Utah is 10th in the league as they shoot 45.2 percent from the floor. The Jazz are tied for 18th in three point shooting as they knock down seven threes per game. Utah is just 22nd in the league in three point shooting as they knock down 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Los Angeles put together a solid performance on the road to down Portland in their season opener Thursday night. The Clippers have the majority of the same group from a season ago as they attempt to make their first trip beyond the Western Conference semifinals in franchise history. Los Angeles led by nine at the half but like the Jazz, found itself tied after three quarters. Los Angeles outscored Portland 32-24 over the final 12 minutes to get the victory. Returning home to face a Utah team that they have had plenty of success against seems to be in their favor.
Chris Paul (five rebounds, five assists) and Blake Griffin (13 rebounds) each had 27 points to lead the Clippers in the victory. Marreese Speights and Jamal Crawford each came off the bench to score 15 points in the contest. The Clippers want to get more out of DeAndre Jordan, who finished with only six points to go with 12 rebounds. He and Griffin were in foul trouble, each finishing with five fouls in the game. J.J. Redick struggled as well, shooting 3 of 8 from the floor and contributing eight points in the game. Speights made the most of his playing time as he scored his points in only 16 minutes of game action. Los Angeles shot only 40.7 percent from the field while going 8 of 29 from three point range. The Clippers missed 14 of 46 free throws. Jordan was atrocious at the line, connecting on just 2 of 10 opportunities.
While it’s true that the Clippers have had a stranglehold in this series in recent years, the fact remains that Los Angeles is still an incomplete team. Losing Matt Barnes may end up hurting the Clippers in the long run as Luc Richard Mbah a Moute put up nothing in 17 minutes. Utah is tough defensively and in Gobert and Favors, the Jazz boasts a 4-5 pairing that can match up with Griffin and Jordan. I’m not saying Utah wins the game outright but they battle the Clippers and keep it close at the very least. Take the points and the Jazz here.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.