The rest of the Clippers failed to make a huge impact within the game with the loss of Utah's centre providing the opportunity for the remaining Jazz starters to step up defensively.
The win was improbable and all the more gratifying because the Jazz played all but 17 seconds without center Rudy Gobert, who suffered a hyperextension of his left knee and a bone bruise on the game's very first possession. That advantage became even more severe when the Jazz lost Rudy Gobert to injury on the first play of the game. Although a postgame MRI revealed no structural or ligament damage, Gobert's left knee sprain took away Utah's defensive leader and potentially most consistent player all-around.
There is no immediate news on his availability for the remainder of the series.
Despite losing Gobert in Game 1, the Jazz stole the opener by playing a disciplined game, giving themselves a chance to win at the end and refusing to play the role of victim without their starting center. A lot of guys have played enough playoff games to know it's truly a series. They battled back and forth all night long.More news: Killer of NFL's Will Smith gets 25 years for manslaughter
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Joe Johnson has seen a lot in his 16 years in the National Basketball Association. Joe Johnson and Gordon Hayward stepped up and led them in scoring with 21 and 19 points, respectively. They beat a team that was "18-2" against them in the last 20 games (read my post on that foolishness, though).
Despite the dramatic 97-95 Jazz victory, one question still looms.
This was against a Los Angeles team supposedly taking a step toward contention this season.. Jonas Valanciunas had nine points and nine rebounds. With Utah's leader in minutes played, blocks, and rebounds out, one would think the Clippers big men would have owned it under the basket. With Gobert on the court, the Jazz had a plus-8.1 net rating during the regular season.
Nobody would have knocked the Jazz for rolling over without their defensive anchor. While the Jazz almost had nearly the inverse rankings, posting league's 3rd best defensive rating and its 12th best offensive rating. Throwing rim-protection out the window against the frontline of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin is a major no-no. Reserve center Jeff Withey could also see an uptick in minutes. Relying on Withey (gulp) has to be a nerve-racking endeavor for Jazz fans.More news: 'Infowars' host Jones says his on-air persona not a 'trick'
"We felt a little bit stunned out there", Diaw said, "but then we regrouped and got back on the horse".
The Jazz now have the lead in their first-round series versus the Clippers.
"No playoff series truly begins until the road team wins a game".More news: Trump says USA relations with Russian Federation at 'all-time low'
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