LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Clippers dropped a pivotal Game 5 with their 96-92 loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday at Staples Center.
Chris Paul led the way for the Clippers with a game-high 28 points, while J.J. Redick contributed 26 points.
After a sluggish first three quarters offensively by both teams, things heated up in the fourth.
The Clippers trailed by 11 with 10:26 left to go in the fourth quarter after Jazz guard Rodney Hood made a 3-pointer from the left corner after a timeout. But Redick scored five straight points and Paul made back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the score at 69 with 7:43 to play, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Despite the fans’ chants of “De-Fense,” however, the Jazz answered the 11-0 run by the Clippers with an 8-0 run of their own, capped by Gordon Hayward’s 3-pointer that beat the shot-clock buzzer.
The Clippers closed to within two points, but Jazz forward Joe Johnson made a 3-pointer after an offensive rebound was batted into his hands, giving Utah an 83-78 lead with 2:59 left in the game.
Los Angeles trailed by three with 36 seconds left, but Johnson made an elbow jumper to give Utah a 92-87 lead with 19.2 seconds left, and guard George Hill made two free throws with 10.8 seconds left.
Paul made a 3-pointer to cut the Jazz lead to 94-92 with 5.1 seconds left, but Hill made two free throws to seal it.
Both teams exchanged blows like prize fighters in the first half. There were six ties and nine lead changes, but the Clippers trailed 46-43 at halftime due to uncharacteristic play.
The Clippers only scored two points in transition in the first 24 minutes, while Jazz, who are last in the NBA in pace, scored 10. To start the fourth quarter, the Clippers committed two consecutive turnovers, one of which was an air-balled 3-pointer by Paul that caused a 24-second shot clock violation.
Hayward got off in the first quarter, scoring 11 points and shooting 3 of 3 from the 3-point line. While he only scored three points in the second quarter, he ended with a team-high 27 points.
The Clippers jumped out to a 7-0 run in the opening minutes of the game, but the Jazz responded with 11 straight points. Paul Pierce made two 3-pointers in the quarter and the Clippers led 21-19 after the first quarter.
Clippers had three players in double figures, while the Jazz had six. The Jazz outrebounded the Clippers 43-34.
The Clippers went to the free-throw line 29 times, making 24. The Jazz, however, went only 13 of 16 from the line.
Clippers: G Austin Rivers returned from a strained left hamstring that has kept him out since March 30. He played 18 minutes and scored 2 points…Dropped to 1-11 in Game 5 of a playoff series that was tied 2-2.
Jazz: Improved to 3-18 against the Clippers in their last 21 matchups against Los Angeles.
Game 6 on Friday at Utah.