The Jazz pulled off a comeback in the second half of Game 1 against the Clippers to escape with a three-point win thanks to a monstrous performance from Donovan Mitchell and a clutch block at the buzzer from Rudy Gobert.
In Game 2, Mitchell picked up where he left off with 27 points in the first half (and 37 for the game), dancing on the Clippers with stepback threes that drew the Clipper defense higher opened up the paint for driving lanes later — but the stepback was always there when he wanted it.
It was Utah’s turn to take a 13-point lead at the break in Game 2, and the tables were turned as the Clippers made a furious second half rally led by a surprising figure in Reggie Jackson, who led L.A. in scoring with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting (4-of-8 from three), with 24 of those coming in the second half.
Every time the Clippers made a run to cut the Utah lead down to a one possession game, the Jazz had an answer. In the third quarter it was Jordan Clarkson (24 points) who pushed their lead back out to seven going to the fourth, as he caught fire with Donovan Mitchell taking a much-needed break.
The most successful L.A. run came in the mid-fourth, as Kawhi Leonard made his imprint on the game known with a steal and ferocious dunk to pull the Clippers within a possession of the Jazz once again.
After that it was the hero of the second half, Reggie Jackson, who came through with back-to-back threes to give the Clippers their first lead of the game at 101-99 with 6:37 to play in the fourth.
But as was the story all half, the Jazz answered back. It started with Joe Ingles hitting an absurd high arcing runner that clipped the top of the backboard, followed by timely threes from Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale to regain a 7-point lead. Ingles capped off the 14-2 run with a three of his own to send the Jazz crowd into a frenzy and give Utah a 113-103 lead.
At the same time, the Clippers went cold at the worst possible time, missing eight straight field goals as Utah took control of the game before Jackson, fittingly, ended the drought with a layup. Paul George would then get an and-1 to make it a five-point game with a minute to play, but the inability of the Clippers to match the Jazz’s shotmaking down the stretch proved too much for them to overcome. Donovan Mitchell put the game on ice with a runner over Luke Kennard to give the Jazz a 117-111 win.
The only late drama involved an off-ball foul between Paul George and Donovan Mitchell that left the Utah star guard on the floor in pain before he got up and split his free throws, creating a bit of concern for his health heading into Game 3 — although Mitchell insisted after the game he just got run into and it hurt in the moment but he was fine now.
The difference on the night for Utah was their three-point shooting, as a team the went 20-for-39 from distance and shot 55.3 percent from the field overall. On the other side, Jackson was sensational, Kawhi was his usual self, and George showed up big in the second half to finish with 27 points, but as a team they just couldn’t match Utah’s continued shooting onslaught, going 11-for-30 from deep (36.7 percent). The Jazz now take a 2-0 series lead and the Clippers find themselves in familiar territory down two games, which means they can lean on their first round experience but this time have to come back against a more complete team.