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The Roundup—Jazz 104, Clippers 91
The Utah Jazz are moving on.
After six games of down-to-the-wire finishes, the Jazz stunned the Clippers with a decisive 104-91 Game 7 victory in Los Angeles Sunday afternoon.
Utah will now face the top-seeded Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Clippers' season is over.
"This means a lot," Gordon Hayward said after the game. "We've been through some pretty hard downs and the community has stuck with us, and so it definitely feels really good to go from 25 wins to where we are this year making the playoffs and winning a series."
Hayward scored 19 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, while George Hill and Derrick Favors scored 17 points each in the victory.
Rudy Gobert played only 13 minutes before fouling out in the fourth quarter. He finished with one point and four rebounds.
Joe Ingles (12 points, four steals), Rodney Hood (11 points), Boris Diaw (10 points) and Joe Johnson (10 points, seven rebounds, five assists) also scored in double figures for the Jazz.
Chris Paul, who entered the night averaging 27.3 points per game in the series, managed only 13 points on 6-for-19 shooting. He added nine assists. DeAndre Jordan exploded for 24 points and 17 rebounds, but LA's center shot only 6-for-15 from the free-throw line.
Jamal Crawford scored 20 points off the bench in the loss.
After Gobert picked up his second foul just three minutes into the game, Favors took the floor as the key to Utah's playoff hopes—and he responded with one of his strongest games of the season. He finished with 17 points (on 8-for-11 shooting), 11 rebounds, three assists and a steal in 30 minutes before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter. Favors also played a big role in Utah's ability to disrupt LA's pick-and-roll offense and consistently force the Clippers into contested shots.
Another strong start by Utah immediately put the pressure on the Clippers. The Jazz jumped out to a 16-10 lead in the game's first six minutes, and they wouldn't trail again. Hill and Hayward each scored five points during that stretch, while Favors, Ingles and Diaw added a bucket each.
The Jazz maintained a not-so-comfortable lead until they broke the game open with a 22-7 run early in the third quarter. Diaw converted two three-point plays and even threw down a transition dunk (yeah, that's not a typo). Hill and Favors each scored. Hayward had a three-point play of his own and then drilled a 3-pointer to give the Jazz a 20-point lead with 4:24 left in the quarter.
The Clippers got rolling late in the third quarter, shooting 11-for-13 over a seven-minute stretch in the second half. The Jazz, though, continued to execute down the stretch and shot 8-for-13 to keep the Clippers from closing the gap. Johnson found Hood for a layup with 0.4 seconds left in the third quarter. Hayward drilled a jumper and then converted a tough three-point play in traffic. Ingles beat the shot clock with a crafty floater, and he also knocked down a long 3-pointer. Johnson bounced in a runner. Hill sank a jumper from the top of the key. Everyone contributed as the Jazz slammed the door on the Clippers.
The Jazz went 18-for-23 (78.3 percent) from the free-throw line, including 14-for-16 (87.5 percent) in the second half. The Clippers shot only 15-for-26 (57.7 percent). During the seven-game series, Hayward shot a phenomenal 43-for-45 (95.6 percent) from the line. He was a perfect 6-for-6 on Sunday.
LA's starting trio of Paul (6-for-19), J.J. Redick (1-for-5) and Austin Rivers (4-for-12) combined to shoot only 30.6 percent from the field.
The Jazz once again controlled the paint—despite only 13 minutes from Gobert—outscoring the Clippers 56-46 around the basket.
Coach's Quote of the Night
"For us, this has been a year where you can either focus on the adversity or focus on the opportunity. There's been opportunties for us. ... I thought we had a lot of guys that were ready [tonight], and that's basically what we've been this year—guys have had to be ready, and invariably they're needed."
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
This was the Jazz's first playoff series win since they beat the Nuggets in the opening round in 2010. ... The Jazz shot 50.6 percent from the field and 46.2 percent (6-for-13) from 3-point range. The Clippers shot 43.8 percent from the field and 24.0 percent (6-for-25) from 3-point range. ... Favors was the first player to record a double-double off the bench in a Game 7 since LA's Kenyon Martin did so in 2012. ... Utah outrebounded LA 46-38. ... Danté Exum had two rebounds, two assists and a steal in eight minutes off the bench.
The Jazz will stay on the road to take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. MT, and the game will be televised on TNT.