When waking up on Wednesday morning, LA Clippers fans were not expecting to hear that superstar Kawhi Leonard was not going to be suiting up. Unfortunately, he is also unlikely to feature in the rest of the series vs. the Jazz.
While I don’t believe the Clippers were told that this game wasn’t meant to go their way, it’s fair to say that early on it didn’t look pretty. The Jazz hit a barrage of threes in the first half (17 of 30). But LA managed to scrap, claw and play some tough defense and pull out a phenomenal 119 – 111 victory at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
The Clippers have been riddled with injuries throughout the season and taken the ‘next man up’ approach all year long. Wednesday night was no different, with every single Clipper player stepping up and providing the squad with a lift.
The LA Clippers are said to have one of the deepest squads in the NBA this season, and it was put on display in Game 5.
It wouldn’t be right of me to not mention the superhuman performance of Paul George who finished with 37/16/5. As the modest man he is, however, he mentioned that this couldn’t have been done without every LA Clipper player performing their role for the squad.
It was important that someone was able to get the scoring going alongside George early as the Jazz got away to that fast start. Marcus Morris Sr. has shown up early in big games before and Wednesday was no different.
After signing a four-year/$64 million deal in the offseason, Mook knew these were the moments he needed to prove himself. He did just that; scoring 25 points (10 of 16 shooting and 3 of 4 from three), and added plenty of tough defensive plays on Rudy Gobert.
Nicolas Batum, or Mr. Fix-it, was doing it all again on both ends of the floor. What he managed to do is not something that you would expect from a guy who is currently on a minimum deal.
The Clippers should definitely be trying to chase his signature in the offseason. He picked up nine points (three of six from three), whilst grabbing four steals and plenty of tip rebounds to others.
The guy who has been the player just behind our superstars Kawhi and PG this postseason, is Reggie Jackson.
He was back to his brilliant best and right when the Clippers needed him most. Reggie took over in the fourth, scoring 12 points (4 of 6 from the field and 2 of 3 from three) when LA could not buy a bucket. He got the squad going and finished with 22 points and three assists, with 2 steals in the process.
As this was a whole squad effort, it would be remise of me to not mention Terance Mann, who took on the starting role with Kawhi down. He didn’t let him down, scoring 13 points (4 of 8 from the field), and one monster dunk over Gobert in a crucial, ‘and-1’ play in the fourth.
Luke Kennard provided his instant scoring as always and finished with six points (two of three from three). Patrick Beverley with his constant and persistent defense put the Jazz shooters under pressure. Plus, some important minutes were played as well by both Ivica Zubac and Rajon Rondo at different points throughout the game.
The squad knew that they couldn’t just leave it to PG. It had to be a whole squad mentality to get it done and they did get it done. This now gives the Clips the chance to close the series out on Friday night in front of their home fans at Staples.