NBA: Jordan Clarkson’s late 3 gives Jazz win over Clippers
SALT LAKE CITY —Jordan Clarkson made a big shot to put Utah ahead and then came up with a key defensive stop to help the Jazz get a win in the NBA.
Clarkson made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 28 seconds left and then forced Kawhi Leonard into a tough missed shot on the other end as the Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers 120-118 on Friday night.
“He hit me with a bunch of moves — shot fakes and spins. I was happy I stayed down and didn’t bite for the fakes,” said Clarkson, who has had a reputation as a shooter but seldom draws rave reviews for his defensive prowess.
Before that, Clarkson just wanted to get a shot for himself or Lauri Markkanen in a 2-for-1 possession situation.
“Lauri popped out but couldn’t get a look … so I just took the shot with confidence and knocked it down,” said Clarkson, who had 13 points.
Markkanen had 35 points and 12 rebounds and Kelly Olynyk added 15 points, including consecutive 3-pointers to make it 111-109 for Utah as it went back-and-forth down the stretch.
Nothing special, just Jordan Clarkson locking up Kawhi Leonard to close the game pic.twitter.com/Z6jPXd0Zfj
— Jazz Lead (@JazzLead) October 28, 2023
“They were good shots and we needed them in that moment,” Olynyk said with a smile since the second 3 was drifting and off-balance.
Paul George scored 36 points and went 15 for 15 from the line while Leonard finished with 25 points in his first appearance on the court here against the Jazz since Game 2 of the 2021 Western Conference semifinals.
The Clippers trailed by 14 in the second quarter before coming back.
“We can’t allow ourselves to fall down like that and have to climb back into a game against a tough team,” George said.
Norman Powell scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Clippers’ comeback.
George gave the Clippers a 118-117 lead with two free throws with 41 seconds remaining before Clarkson dribbled his way into a tough 3 from the right angle in front of the Jazz bench.
Leonard missed a 3 with Clarkson draped on him and then Russell Westbrook missed a rebound try from 18 feet at the buzzer.
“It was a really, really gritty win for our team. We are far from where we want to be … but if we play that hard every night, we’re going to be tough,” Utah coach Will Hardy said.
The Clippers have lost 12 straight regular season games in Utah with their last win coming on Feb. 13, 2017.
“I thought their movement all night long kind of hurt us … and then we went small which helped our defense. But then offensive rebounds really hurt us with 33 second-chance points,” Los Angeles coach Ty Lue said of Utah’s 17 offensive rebounds.
The Clippers took their first lead of the game on Nicolas Batum’s 3, which capped a 17-4 surge and made it 104-101 with 5:49 to play.
George scored 15 points in the third quarter to help the Clippers pull to 89-83 entering the fourth.
“It was purely a mindset. Try to get to the paint, make a play at the rim,” George said.
The Jazz made their first five 3s of the second quarter to fuel a 15-4 run. Talen Horton-Tucker’s 3 gave Utah its biggest lead of the game at 50-36.
After making just nine 3s in season-opening blowout loss to Sacramento, the Jazz were 16 for 41 against the Clippers for their first win of the season.
“It feels great. Now the nightmares of 0-for-82 are over,” Markkanen said. “It was a really big win for us.”
Clippers: Host San Antonio on Sunday.
Jazz: At Phoenix on Saturday.