Clippers at Jazz
The Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz finished neck-and-neck in the Western Conference race and have put forth one of the tightest first-round playoff series so far. Both teams will try to get a leg up when the series shifts to Salt Lake City for a critical Game 3 on Friday night.
After losing on a buzzer-beater in Game 1, the Clippers started fast en route to a 99-91 victory in Tuesday's Game 2, evening the series at a game apiece and establishing themselves in the paint. "We had a couple of days being pretty pissed off," Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin told reporters after scoring 24 points. "Our spirit [tonight] was great." Griffin helped fuel the interior dominance that led to a 60-38 scoring advantage in the paint and a 47-39 edge on the glass as the Clippers exploited the absence of Jazz center Rudy Gobert (knee), who remains questionable. "They raised their level tonight," coach Quin Snyder told reporters. "We didn't necessarily back down but I thought they played with an intensity and a level from the beginning of the game. It was impressive. That's who they are. That's what we expected. We've got to raise our level."
TV: 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2, Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), ROOT Rocky Mountain (Utah)
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS: Center DeAndre Jordan had his share of issues with Gobert and the Jazz during the regular season but took control of the shorthanded Jazz in Game 2, recording 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting and 15 rebounds. "We can't worry about one person, and I don't think my job changes if he's playing or if he's out," Jordan told the media. Point guard Chris Paul figures to be successful regardless of who is on the court and he is averaging 23 points, 10.5 assists and three steals while shooting 55.9 percent from the floor in the series.
ABOUT THE JAZZ: Utah fell behind early in Game 1 and was outscored 29-18 in the first quarter in Tuesday's loss, a trend it wants to reverse at home. "The first quarter is what really got us, and they hit us a little bit, set us back in Game 1, as well," forward Gordon Hayward told reporters following a 20-point effort. "We definitely have to be better in the first quarter, but besides the first quarter we played them pretty even." Veteran swingman Joe Johnson, who hit the game-winner in Game 1, added 13 points off the bench and forward Derrick Favors also finished with 13 while starting in place of Gobert.
1. The Clippers won nine in a row at Utah before falling 114-108 in Salt Lake City on March 13.
2. Favors has made 12-of-17 shots in the series.
3. Los Angeles SGs J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford combined to shoot 12-for-37 from the field - including 1-for-14 from 3-point range - in the first two games.