Utah Jazz advance to second round with Game 7 victory over Los Angeles Clippers

By Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange  |  April 30, 2017 at 8:18 PM
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LOS ANGELES -- The Utah Jazz enjoyed another smooth ride through Staples Center.

Gordon Hayward had 26 points to lead seven Utah players who scored in double figures, and the Jazz eliminated the Clippers from the Western Conference playoffs with a 104-91 victory in Game 7 of a first-round series on Sunday at Staples Center.

George Hill and Derrick Favors contributed 17 points apiece as the Jazz advanced to the second round, where they will meet the Golden State Warriors. Game 1 is Tuesday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

Favors also grabbed 11 rebounds before fouling out with 5:24 remaining. He filled a void left by Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who was also plagued by fouls. Gobert finished with one point and four rebounds in 13 minutes.

"I was struggling a lot this season with injuries, and my teammates had to hold it down for me while I was out," said Favors, who connected on 8 of 11 shots from the field. "But I felt like I owed them, especially in this game. I just wanted to come out, be aggressive, make sure I had their backs.

"When Rudy got in foul trouble, I had to make sure I was ready mentally and physically, and I just wanted to pay them back for holding me down all season."

Joe Ingles had 12 points, Rodney Hood scored 11 and Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw added 10 each for Utah. Hayward pulled down eight rebounds.

The Jazz won three of their four games on the Clippers' home court. The road team captured five of the seven games in the series.

"It's unusual," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "I don't know if there's been a series where the two teams have won collectively five road games."

DeAndre Jordan had 24 points and 17 boards to lead the Clippers. Jamal Crawford added 20 points, and Chris Paul scored 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting from the field and had nine assists.

"Our bigs were up on pick-and-rolls," said Hayward, who scored 19 points in the second half. "We made it difficult for Chris Paul to get in the lane, get his little pull-up jump shot, too, and guys on the weak side were rotating, making them make the extra pass and make some other guys try to create for them."

None of the Clippers, with the exception of Jordan, Crawford and Paul, were able to step up. The Jazz muzzled J.J. Redick, who was 1 of 5 from the floor and scored three points -- his lone 3-pointer occurred late in the game -- in 22 minutes.

Clippers forwards Luc Mbah a Moute (two points, two rebounds) and Austin Rivers (nine points on 4-of-12 shooting) weren't effective down the stretch.

As he shouldered the scoring load for much of the series, Paul accepted blame for the Clippers falling short.

"Man, I know I've got to be better," Paul said. "I've got to be better, especially in a Game 7 like this. I think they did a good job tonight of shrinking the court. That means the big being up in the ball screen.

"It was sort of up tonight, not letting me get to my spots and stuff like that. But for me, I've got to figure out ways to do that anyway."

The Jazz used a third-quarter spurt to grab a double-digit lead and retained it for almost the rest of the game. A 3-pointer by Redick with 3:28 remaining closed the gap to 98-90, but the Clippers got no closer.

"Listen, they beat us," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said when asked if the absence of Blake Griffin, who injured a big toe in Game 3 and was done for the postseason, was a factor. "Not having Blake obviously is a major wound when you take your best scorer, your best rebounder, your second-best passer off the team, but give Utah credit. They won the series."

A 10-0 run put the Jazz up 61-44 after a jumper by Hill with 6:48 left in the third quarter. They increased the margin to 71-50 after Favors tipped in a Hayward miss with 3:23 remaining.

By the end of the third, the Jazz led 79-63.

Clippers forward Paul Pierce played his final NBA game. He scored six points in 22 minutes.

NOTES: The Jazz are 3-2 all time in Game 7 matchups, and the Clippers are 3-4. ... Utah defeated Los Angeles for the third time in three postseason meetings. In the previous two, the Jazz prevailed two best-of-five series, winning 3-2 in 1992 and sweeping the Clippers in 1997. ... Game 2 between Golden State and Utah is Thursday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., before the series shifts to Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and May 8.

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