The Clippers never lead in the second half, but with 2:53 remaining in the game, Corey Maggette sunk a pair from the line to bring the Clips to within three.  Needing stops, the Clippers surrendered 11 points over the next four possessions:

  • Sloan's flex offense --- even more so than the triangle --- results in more blown rotations than any other scheme. 

    And here comes the Jazz, setting down screens and performing flex cuts and reverals/skip passes like they're running a clinic.  Williams brings it up guarded by Shaun Livingston.  Okur gives him a high screen on the left wing, and the Clippers trap with Kaman and Shaun, so Williams reverses course.  With Utah, the off-ball work never ends.  As Williams dribbles right - still way up top - Boozer steps out to give him a screen, allowing Williams to turn the corner.  Since Boozer is over twenty feet from the basket, his man, Brand, stays down low and takes Kaman's guy [Okur] in the lane, leaving Kaman high to meet Williams as he makes that turn.  Maggette comes over to double Okur off the ball, weak-side mid-post.  As Williams penetrates, Brand drops low to take a diving Boozer, leaving Maggette alone on Okur, with Kaman still on the ball.  [In other words, who's on Giricek?].  As Williams reaches the paint, he looks for help and finds Okur at the left elbow being covered by a much smaller Maggette.  Okur curls around the circle to receive the pass.  He realizes --- unlike the Clippers' entire defense and coaching staff ---- that there's no one within ten feet of Giricek.  Okur finds him and Giricek hits. 

    The correct rotation here, I think, would be to have Shaun go out on Giricek after Williams makes that turn.  Williams is dribbling into the teeth of the Clippers' interior defense, so I'm not sure what Shaun can possibly do from behind.  Where there's a desperate need for a body is between Williams and Giricek.  But that realization requires sharp defensive instincts, something the Clippers seem to lack. 

    At any rate, this is merely an instance of the smarter basketball team winning the possession.

    Utah 90, Clippers 84


  • After Mobley's three gets blocked, and a Livingston non-shooting foul, Williams gets it off the inbound and sets the offense.  This is a weird, blink-and-you-miss-it sequence.  Boozer sets a high screen for Williams.  You can see Kaman watching it develop.  The minute Boozer bounces off, Kaman takes a quick step to the ball side, leaving Okur momentarily open on the arc.  That's all the Turk needs.

    Utah 93, Clippers 84


  • After a nice, uncomplicated sequence in which Maggette --- being covered [in a manner of speaking] weak-side by Giricek --- cuts to the elbow to receive the ball from Shaun and hits a driving layup, the Jazz bring it up again.

    Utah 93, Clippers 86


    This time, the Clippers are closely patrolling the perimeter.  They cover the Boozer high screen to perfection, so Williams dribbles left and tries it with Okur.  Okur has the look, but Thomas --- now in for Kaman --- closes quickly.  So Williams gets it back from Okur and they try again, yet another high screen from Okur for Williams [Utah never stops working off the ball.  Ever.].  Off the switch, Williams has Thomas on the mismatch, so he drives straight to the hoop, and lays it up no good.

    Because Williams blows by Thomas, Brand has to meet Williams at the rim, leaving Boozer to trail for the tip-in. 

    Utah 95, Clippers 86


  • Another Mobley miss, this one from short range.  The Jazz, though they have the break, slow it up.  They intend to chew some clock, but they also can't pass up a perfectly open look:

    High screen for Williams from Boozer.  Elton takes Boozer as he dives off the screen toward the lane.  Unfortunately, Thomas [on Boozer to start the possession], doesn't realize this, because he thinks he's got Williams on the switch.  Okay.  So if Brand now has Boozer and Thomas thinks he's got Williams, then who's on Okur [Brand's original man]?  Nobody, because Livingston --- rightly so --- is still on the ball.   Error Tim Thomas. 

    Okur steps out and hits the wide open three. 

    Utah 98, Clippers 86

Clipperblog mentioned it during the write-up of the last debacle at Utah, but it warrants mentioning again that Deron Williams was the correct pick for the Jazz at PG.   What does Jerry Sloan need from a point guard?  Patience, decision-making, and defense.   Williams has all three. 

The Clippers, by and large, played a solid basketball game, but a trailing visiting team steals an NBA game with defensive execution, with stops.  Phoenix, Utah, Dallas, Denver, the Lakers --- these teams show you some graduate level offenses.  And the Clippers, 26th in the league in defensive efficiency, aren't going to win basketball games against any quality opponents until they learn how opposing teams space the floor. 

Again, this thing that's happening...this awful stench from the garage...it's a defensive problem.