I’m not going to name any names, but the season opener for the LA Clippers was a bad Sunday for the trolls/Jakes, and it was a bad Sunday for the Utah Jazz as well.
Despite a sprained thumb, Clippers C DeAndre Jordan dominated the Jazz to the tune of a game-high 16 rebounds in just over 28 minutes, and the Jazz were held to 39.7 percent shooting from the field. The Clippers shut down Utah in an 88-75 win, the fewest points allowed in a home opener in franchise history.
Jordan was listed as probable when he hurt his thumb on his non-shooting hand, but it wasn’t as bad as originally thought, according to Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.
“I was worried because I saw the swelling in his hand. When it’s that quick, that’s never a good thing,” Rivers said. “Then, when he went back in I started feeling a little bit better. I think they’re still going to do an x-ray. I hate those machines, so let’s just hope it’s okay.”
The Jazz started Boris Diaw next to C Rudy Gobert, with Derrick Favors still under a minutes restriction. Those three bigs, plus Trey Lyles, all played at least 18 minutes. They combined to shoot 7-of-22 (31.8 percent) from the field while scoring a combined 20 points. After the Clippers tied the Trail Blazers in the rebounding battle Thursday night, they outrebounded the Jazz 49-43 despite Utah shooting a lower percentage from the field. The Clippers had 14 offensive rebounds as well, a season after grabbing 14+ offensive rebounds only 6 times. In addition to Jordan dominating inside, PF Blake Griffin had his second-straight double-double, scoring 18 points (7/14 FGs) and grabbing 10 rebounds.
“I thought that [our] defense was terrific,” Rivers said. “We were very physical, you know, two games in a row, our physicality has been something you would notice. When they [the Jazz] miss that many shots and they only have seven offensive rebounds, which the type of rebounding team that they are, that’s great. For us to miss as many and have 14, [which] just tells us that we were locked in.”
For those looking for an encore from the Clippers bench, it was delivered mostly by PG Austin Rivers, who scored a game-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field (72.7 percent). It marked the 2nd-best field goal percentage for Rivers in games with at least 10 field goal attempts. On the flip side, Utah’s bench made only 12-of-35 (34.3 percent) from the field.
“I thought the bench again came in and gave us another lift,” Doc Rivers said. “We talk a lot about if you aren’t doing what you do well, ‘What else can you do for the team?’ Mo Speights was 1-of-8 and he drew four charges. You know, that’s a great example of just hanging in there and trying to do something else for your team.”
Another good sign for the Clippers in what was a slow offensive game was that the starters played better as a whole after getting outplayed in Portland. LA’s starting 5 had a net rating of 24.4 in 15 minutes, and for the 5 minutes that Austin Rivers was with the starters in place of SF Luc Mbah a Moute, that net rating jumped to 30.0.
“Where I think Austin helps, offensively with that unit, is another guy going downhill, you know, attacking of the basket, because with the starting group, it’s really only Chris [Paul] attacking the basket and when you add Austin it gives you two guys,” Doc Rivers said after the game. “And that helps J.J. [Redick] and that helps space the floor.”