Game Notes: Jazz at Clippers
Boozer is a beast from start to finish.
Chris Kaman tried and tried. Marcus Camby gave it his best effort. Craig Smith didn’t fair much better. The Clippers exasperated every option they had in an attempt to stop Carlos Boozer. Nothing worked though.
Boozer was seemingly unstoppable in Utah’s 109-99 victory on Tuesday night at Staples Center, finishing with 34 points, on 13-17 shooting from the field, to go along with 14 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.
Perhaps Boozer’s dominating effort was in reaction to the fact that he wasn’t selected to participate in the All-Star Game this weekend in Dallas, Tex. Maybe not. Regardless, it spelled bad news for the Clippers.
Leading 56-52 at the half, Los Angeles had plenty of momentum to open the third quarter. That is, until you know who decided to take over. Boozer scored 13 points and added 8 rebounds over the course of the next 12 minutes.
Little changed in the fourth quarter. A three-point play, the old fashioned way, from Boozer followed by a dunk and layup down the stretch gave the Jazz a comfortable lead, and ultimately, their ninth consecutive victory.
Next up for Utah: A visit from the Lakers on Wednesday night. Best believe that Boozer & Co. would like nothing more than to put together a similar all-around effort in their showdown with the defending NBA Champions.
*** During warm-ups. Kaman has an added pep in his step. And a new haircut. Apparently, the barber got a hold of him and talked Caveman into buzzing everything off. Undoubtedly, the new outlook on life has something to with the recent announcement that he’s an All-Star, replacing the injured Brandon Roy.
*** Kaman isn’t the only All-Star in attendance tonight. Deron Williams is in the building. He appears to be having fun before the opening tip, sharing a few laughs with Baron Davis at mid-court just before the ball is set in motion. These two are going to be getting after each other all evening long.
*** No easy baskets, not for the Clippers. Davis takes the ball to the hole only to have Mehmet Okur swat it into the stands. On the other end of the floor, Okur hustles to grab a rebound and make an easy layup, giving the Jazz a four-point lead at 8:37
*** Rasual Butler lingers around his favorite spot on the court, in the corner. Right on queue, with 7:28 left, he buries a pair of three-pointers to tie the game, 10-10.
*** Andrei Kirilenko looks like the Andrei Kirilenko of old. AK47 manages to get free underneath and dunks on Kaman. Clippers trail by three at 5:47.
*** Ronnie Brewer is wide open out on the perimeter, but throws up a brick. Williams is there to clean up the mess. He skies for the rebound and throws down a one-handed follow slam to give the Jazz a 29-26 advantage at the end of one.
*** Al Thornton comes off the bench and makes an immediate impact. He knocks down a pair of jumpers and hands out an assist to Davis and Smith. It’s a spark the Clippers were searching for. The score is all tied up, 36-36, at 7:18.
*** Boozer gets busy, grabbing a board and getting a put-back to fall. A pair of free-throws give Utah a six-point advantage with 4:45 remaining.
*** Seconds later, Williams loses Davis along the baseline with a spin move and appears to be heading for an easy bucket. Out of nowhere, Camby flies into the frame and rejects the shot, sending the ball into the third row.
*** The defensive lapse seems to inspire Davis and it should’ve because he got used. Davis drains a three-pointer, makes a two from the stripe and converts a conventional three-point play. The Clippers regain the lead, 53-51 at 1:14.
*** A pair of Davis passes to Butler and Eric Gordon leads to three made free-throws and gives the Clippers a 56-52 advantage at the break. Let’s see if the lead holds up.
*** After a poor effort in the first half, Kaman comes out with a different mindset following intermission. He goes 3-4 from the line in the opening minutes and then makes a layup. Los Angeles is up seven points at the 9:37 mark. Kaman finishes with 19 points and 7 rebounds in 41 minutes
*** When are the Jazz going to learn that you can’t leave Butler all alone beyond the three-point arc? He hits another one from way downtown, in the corner of course, and the Clippers extend the lead to 68-58 with 8:34 left.
*** Kaman steps outside and sinks an 18-footer. At 4:58, the Jazz trail by nine points. The Clippers could be for real tonight.
*** You gotta love the way Williams plays. A pump fake freezes Gordon and allows the heady floor general to get into the lane for an easy layup. Shortly thereafter, Williams makes three free-throws to cut the deficit to six points at 4:03.
*** Butler buries a three-pointer, his fourth on the night, this time from the wing. The shot gives the Clippers what appears to be a nice cushion, 79-70, with 3:28 remaining.
*** Boozer keeps Utah close. He makes three consecutive shots from the line and a pair of layups follow as the Jazz trail, 84-80, at the end of three.
*** Ronnie Price is killing the Clippers. He comes off the bench and coverts a layup. Then, he sinks two three-pointers. All of a sudden, Utah is up, 88-86, with 9:37 left.
*** After a brief stint on the bench, Boozer is back. The Jazz waste little time in getting him the ball inside the paint. He gets Kaman off his feet, draws a foul and makes the basket and subsequent free-throw. The Clippers are down by six points at 7:43.
*** Gordon scores, as does Kaman. The buckets help, although Los Angeles trails, 100-93, with 5:20 remaining on the clock. If the Clippers are going to rally, they can’t exchange baskets. Stops are going to be necessary at some point. Now is as good a time as any.
*** Williams throws a perfect alley-oop to C.J. Miles and heads back down to the other end of the court with this 10th assist of the game. The dish gives Utah an eight-point lead at 3:54.
*** Butler has been on the sidelines for a while now. He was hot early. The Clippers are going to need him sooner, rather than later.
*** No he didn’t. Davis blows a breakaway layup. That would’ve made it a four-point game. There’s only 1:18 remaining. This one is over unless something crazy happens.
*** On the next Utah possession, Boozer throws down a thunderous two-handed dunk. Adding insult to injury, he makes a layup for the final margin of victory, 109-99.
*** Williams finished with 13 points, 11 assists and rebounds. Never mind about his stats though. All he wanted to do was talk about Boozer afterward. “Booz was just a monster tonight and he proved that he should have been on the All-Star team. I think that’s basically what he was doing tonight,” Williams said.
*** Boozer was presented with the question about whether he felt as if he got snubbed in favor of Kaman, who ended up getting the All-Star nod. In the locker room, Boozer took the high road and offered up this response: “I was motivated. Chris Kaman is very deserving. He is a stud player. He’s a load down there and he deserves it. I just come out and play aggressive.”
*** Overall, Davis played well. All told, he had 16 points, 9 assists and 3 rebounds. His missed layup, however, in the waning moments, might be the sequence most remember. “I thought it was a physical mistake, I don’t think it was a mental mistake,” Clippers coach Kim Hughes said. “He made the right play, he had the ball and attacked the hoop. Given the opportunity, I would give it to him again.”