Lob City smash: Clippers beat Jazz 99-91, even series at 1-1
LOS ANGELES — Buoyed by a newfound sense of urgency, the Clippers took it to the Utah Jazz from the opening tip. The patch of real estate under the basket was all theirs, all game.
Blake Griffin led a smash-mouth revival of Lob City with 24 points and DeAndre Jordan had a double-double in the Clippers’ 99-91 victory on Tuesday night that evened their playoff series at 1-1.
Jordan finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds, and Chris Paul added 21 points and 10 assists for the Clippers, who crushed the Jazz in the paint, 60-38.
“It was big,” Griffin said. “Our spirit was great, and I think it just carried over into the first quarter, with everybody being aggressive. That’s what we need. Miss or make shots, we have to be aggressive like that. Our offensive aggressiveness will carry over to defense.”
Los Angeles stormed to a 12-point lead in the first quarter, reeling off the kind of dunks that earned the team’s Lob City moniker years ago. Jordan’s tomahawk jam put an exclamation on the end of the period.
The Big Three of Griffin, Jordan and Paul combined on 10-of-13 shooting and six rebounds in the first, when the Clippers shot 65 percent. They outscored the Jazz 18-0 in the paint.
“They played with an intensity and level from the beginning of the game,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “It was impressive.”
There was more to come in the second. Griffin powered down two dunks and Jordan again ended the scoring with an alley-oop slam from Jamal Crawford that sent the Clippers into halftime leading 51-42.
“We got a lot of stops early in the game,” Jordan said. “We were able to get out and run in transition and get some easy dunks and post steals for Blake, and then it opens up for our shooters.”
Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 20 points. Joe Johnson, whose floater at the buzzer gave them a two-point win in Game 1, added 13 points off the bench.
The Jazz never led in the game and got no closer than six points in the fourth.
“The first quarter is what really got us, and they hit us a little bit, set us back in Game 1, as well,” Hayward said. “We definitely have to be better in the first quarter, but besides the first quarter we played them pretty even.”
Utah closed within three points early in the third on a basket by Derrick Favors, who started in place of injured Rudy Gobert. But Paul answered with a 3-pointer, then stole the ball from George Hill and cruised in for a layup before J.J. Redick scored, capping a 7-0 spurt to push the lead back to double digits.
Without Gobert to patrol the middle, the Clippers easily had their way.
“We got to find other ways to protect the paint. That’s the challenge,” Snyder said. “There’s no sense lamenting his absence. Just got to figure out how to be better.”
The Clippers played defense down the stretch. Jordan came out to the perimeter to hound Hayward, while Griffin got in Johnson’s face. At one point, Paul’s mouthpiece went flying and landed on the opposite side of the court.
Griffin took a page out of Paul’s repertoire and buried a 3-pointer from the left corner, extending the Clippers’ lead to 97-88 with 1:35 to play
Bulls 111, Celtics 97
BOSTON — Jimmy Butler scored 22 points, Rajon Rondo finished one rebound shy of a triple-double and the Chicago Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 111-97 on Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their series against the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Butler added eight rebounds and eight assists. Rondo’s night ended with 11 points and 14 assists on a night when all five Bulls starters reached double figures.
Dwyane Wade had 22 points, including 16 in the second half, and Robin Lopez added 18 points and eight points.
The Bulls host Game 3 on Friday.
After a better start by the Celtics, a familiar theme started to take hold as the Bulls took control by again dominating on the offensive glass. Chicago held a 43-38 rebounding edge for the game.
Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston.
RAPTORS 106, BUCKS 100
TORONTO — Kyle Lowry scored 22 points, including the clinching basket with less than 10 seconds to play, and Toronto beat Milwaukee to even the first-round playoff series at 1-1.
DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Serge Ibaka added 13 of his 16 in the second half and Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who improved to 5-1 when playing Game 2 of a playoff series on their home court.
Game 3 is Thursday night in Milwaukee.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks. Khris Middleton scored 20 points and Greg Monroe had 18.
Lowry scored just four points in Saturday’s Game 1 loss, missing all six of his 3-point attempts.
He was much better in Game 2, going 6 for 12, including 2 of 5 from long range. His step back jumper with 8.9 seconds remaining gave Toronto a 104-100 lead.
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