SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Donovan Mitchell scored 45 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 112-109 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of their Western Conference semi-final series on Tuesday night.
Mitchell did most of his work in the second half, scoring 32 points to rally the Jazz to a double-digit deficit. Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic collected 18 points each. Mitchell and Clarkson combined for 12 3-pointers.
Kawhi Leonard scored 23 points to lead Los Angeles. Paul George had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Luke Kennard added 18 points while setting a record four to 3 points.
Utah and Los Angeles will play Game 2 on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz trailed up to 14 points before rallying and overtaking the Clippers in the fourth quarter. Utah took the lead in earnest in a 21-9 run stalled by Bogdanovic’s 3 points. His second gave the Jazz a 103-93 lead with 5:22 remaining.
George scored 3 points to reduce the deficit to 112-109 in the last minute. But Rudy Gobert blocked a potentially equalizing shot Marcus Morris with a second left to preserve the victory.
The Jazz were freezing up front in the first quarter. Utah took a 10-2 lead after Mitchell made a pair of 3s. Over the next 8.5 minutes, the Jazz missed 20 consecutive shots. 15 of the 20 shots were contested by the Clippers. Utah started 3 of 25 on the field before Clarkson buried a corner three to break the ice.
Los Angeles capitalized on the long drought with a 22-2 streak. Kennard buried three 3 points to put the Clippers ahead 24-12 at the end of the quarter.
Hot outside shots backed Los Angeles in the second quarter and kept Utah at bay. The Clippers went from 7 of 12 to 3 points in the quarter. Four of those baskets came in a streak where they scored on six straight possessions, culminating with Rajon Rondo’s outside basket, to extend their lead to 51-37.
Mitchell took over early in the third quarter. He scored four straight baskets to open the quarter and totaled 16 points in nine minutes. His efforts helped the Jazz regain a 72-71 lead at the end of a 13-4 streak. Mitchell scored back-to-back baskets to fuel the run and assisted Royce O’Neale’s go-ahead layup.
Clippers: Serge Ibaka (back spasms) did not play. â¦ DeMarcus Cousins ââmade his playoff debut and finished with six points and three rebounds in four minutes. Cousins ââdid not appear in any of the first round games against Dallas. â¦ George went 4 of 17 from the field.
Jazz: Mike Conley (right hamstring strain) didn’t play. â¦ Mitchell shot 11 of 17 from the field in the second half. â¦ Gobert and O’Neale combined for 23 rebounds. â¦ Utah did not score a two-point basket in the first quarter, dropping 0 of 8 inside the 3-point line.
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