Jazz notes: Utah better without Rudy Gobert?, Blake Griffin compliments Jazz

Jazz notes: Utah better without Rudy Gobert?, Blake Griffin compliments Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY — Los Angeles Clippers guard Raymond Felton thought his team might have been put at a bigger disadvantage than the Jazz when Utah center Rudy Gobert left Game 1 with a knee injury only 17 seconds after the playoffs started.

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The Jazz went on to win that opener 97-95 when Joe Johnson hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning floater at Staples Center.

“With him (Gobert) being out, you’d think it would be easier, but it really wasn’t,” Felton said between the first two games. “It’s kind of hard to play against a team when they lose one of their top guys, because everybody else steps up and plays at another level. I almost want him to come back and play.”

Utah would be more than fine with that, especially after being outscored 60-38 in the paint and getting outrebounded 39-33 in the Game 2 loss Tuesday night.

On a couple of occasions, Utah played good initial defense while trailing by six points in the fourth quarter, but the Jazz couldn’t secure the defensive rebound only to watch the Clippers grab an offensive board and push the lead back up to eight or nine.

“Rebounding is a tough one,” Jazz big man Boris Diaw said. “They got a lot of long rebounds and even second-chance points. … Overall, I thought they played better.”

HIGH PRAISE: Clippers forward BlakeGriffin gave the Jazz credit for not folding and making Tuesday’s game a competitive one after L.A. took a big lead early on.

“They’re a team that they keep fighting. They keep executing. I’ve said it over and over, but they’re really well-coached,” Griffin said. “They don’t panic. They have a good group of veteran leaders that have been in these situations.”

FRONT AND CENTER:JeffWithey doesn’t take playing time for granted. Heck, there were 31 games during the regular season, when Jazz coach Quin Snyder didn’t even call the center’s name.

Withey’s role changed drastically as soon as RudyGobert crumpled to the court in the opening seconds of Game 1 Saturday. Instead of watching and cheering on Gobert and DerrickFavors, who figured to get the vast majority of center minutes this series, the fourth-year big from Kansas has been thrust into an active participant role during the playoffs.

“It’s a great honor. It’s what every player wants is to be in the playoffs, to play, to help their team win,” Withey said. “I’m super stoked about it. I’m excited. Yeah, you can’t beat the feeling.”

Unfortunately, his chance came about because of injuries, but that’s par for the course considering the type of season it’s been for the medically-challenged Jazz.

Withey didn’t make a game-winning bucket or fill up the box score in Game 1 — he had three points, two rebounds and a block — but his solid effort was one of the many contributions the Jazz needed to snag home-court advantage from the Clippers as the series heads back to Utah. He played just eight minutes in Game 2, but the Jazz were only outscored by one point in that stretch.

“I was telling my friends my job’s pretty easy,” he said. “I have to set good screens, roll and rebound. I’m not going to try to do anything outside of my job. I’m going to do everything I can to try to help us win. I’m not putting any extra pressure on myself to do anything special or spectacular at all.”

CHESS MATCH: This is only DerrickFavors’ second playoff series, but he’s learned one thing about the postseason.

“It’s a game of adjustments,” he said. “They did a good job adjusting.”

Favors humorously said that as his pre-scripted answer before media even asked him a question in the visitors’ locker room at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

“We matched their intensity. It’s playoff basketball. It’s not going to be the same every game,” he said. “Obviously they made a lot of adjustments in the pick-and-roll, getting in the paint. We’ve just got to make adjustments next game.”

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ONE-LINERS: Even after a loss, Joe Ingles can’t help but be funny. While on the podium for interviews after the 99-91 setback in Game 2, Ingles turned to Gordon Hayward and told him to answer. “They don’t understand what I’m saying anyway.” … Clippers center DeAndre Jordan on Los Angeles’ mindset and preparation for the second game: “Doc (Rivers) yelled at us a lot.” … Rivers seemed surprised media didn’t ask him for his reaction to Memphis coach DavidFizdale‘s referee rant that went viral on Monday night. “You guys done? You want to talk about Fizdale?” Reporters laughed and the Clippers coach quickly added, “No, no, I’m leaving.”

EMAIL: jody@desnews.com


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Published at Wed, 19 Apr 2017 23:36:00 +0000