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EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — An incredible win, an incredible series

By David Locke, Utah Jazz

Summary: Down by seven with 7:37 left and trailing the series two games to one, Joe Johnson checked in the game and the series changed possibly forever. The Jazz win it, 105-98, and tie the series at two games apiece.

  • This is incredible. INCREDIBLE. INSANE. REMARKABLE. MIND-BLOWING. This team… How do they do it?  Joe Ingles said it after the game, they have no choice, but at some point you would think they would blink. You would think they would say, okay you gave us that 800th punch to the gut and it was more than we can handle. They are unbreakable. Rudy Gobert goes down 11 seconds into the series and they win Game 1. Chris Paul rips their heart out at the end of Game 3 and then Gordon Hayward is struck by food poisoning and somehow this team manages to find a win. 
  • This series has had more turns that a ride at Magic Mountain. All of a sudden, despite playing two of the next three on the road in LA, there is a possibility this series is pointing in the favor of the Jazz. For the first three games of the series, when the Jazz were without Rudy Gobert, the Clippers were the better team. With the Jazz getting Gobert healthy and the Clippers without Griffin, there is a legitimate chance the Jazz are the better team.
  • The Jazz trailed 87-80. The Clippers were having their way. Chris Paul was on the verge of a triple-double. Jamal Crawford was having his night. The Jazz couldn’t get stops and losing tonight felt like the end. Then came Joe Johnson. Joe hit an 8-foot floater, followed it with a 3, another floater then a tough turnaround jumper and the Jazz had tied the game at 87-87. He wasn’t done. He hit another paint floater to make it 11 straight points. Ingles followed with a 3 on a Joe Johnson pass and the Jazz were up two points. Joe kept dishing with a pass to Hood for a 3 and the Jazz were up by 5 with 2:13.
  • There was a cool moment after the game when Joe Ingles circled back to find Derrick Favors who had a tough Game 3, but has given this team everything he has had the last four games and tonight was incredible. Favors had 17 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes. Favors was active and terrific. Doc Rivers singled Derrick Favors out for his huge game.
  • Rudy Gobert returned and played 24 minutes. His impact was obvious he had 15 points and 13 rebounds.
  • The Jazz have figured out how to score in this series. The Jazz couldn’t score in the regular season or much of Game 1 in this series, so that’s big. Now, on back to back nights, they had an offensive rating near 120.  
  • Joe Johnson: 28 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. This is a really special player. He had 12 of 17 shooting. Joe Johnson is 22 of 29 in the paint this series.
  • Gordon Hayward had food poisoning and played just nine minutes. He left the bench with about five minutes left in the first half and at halftime, Quin Snyder said Gordon was throwing up.   
  • Joe Ingles had a career-high 11 assists. He did a wonderful job running the high pick and roll.
  • Chris Paul is remarkable.  He was so dominant at the end of Game 3. Moreover, in that game he saved the game on two different occasions when the Jazz had all the momentum. He did the same thing tonight on two different occasions when the Jazz had the momentum and the crowd was going bananas. He feels the game better than anyone I have seen in the NBA. He is incredible. Maybe he didn’t have a sixth save in him tonight.
  • The Clippers offense died in the fourth quarter. They did a nice job of getting the ball out of Chris Paul’s hands.
  • The Jazz made some really cool adjustments to stop the roll of DeAndre Jordan tonight. It will be interesting to see if they can hold for the next three games of the series. 
  • Rivers went small with Luc Mbah a Moute at the four to cover Joe Johnson and played Paul, Crawfod and JJ Redick with DeAndre Jordan. The Jazz are short on wings without Hayward and Burks. The Clippers really miss Austin Rivers when they go to these lineups. He would change who they are. The Jazz were able to counter this lineup. 
  • Rodney Hood was having a brutal night and then he nailed enormous shots. He doesn’t have big game experience and it seemed like the environment might be getting to him. Instead — and in a manner that represents the team not having another choice ­­— Quin didn’t have another choice, and Rodney had to keep going so he had no choice, and he made two enormous plays.
  • Dante Exum played and hit an incredible 3 that in a game that was big.
  • Mo Speights missed a 3 that would have given the Clippers a 10-point lead. It was the only possession all night where either team could have taken a double-digit lead.
  • This was an incredible win in what is an incredible series in what has been a season without reason.