Blake Griffin logged a double-double and Austin Rivers scored 19 points as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 88-75 in the Clippers’ 2016-2017 season home opener. Solid defense was a key factor for the Clippers in the win. The franchise is now 2-0 for the season.
Clippers Beat Jazz in Home Opener 88-75
Full game highlights:
Rivers and Griffin Shine
The Clippers struggled to find their offensive rhythm in this midday match-up. They shot an unimpressive 41.0% from the field and a dismal 22.2% from three-point range. Despite these poor team statistics, Austin Rivers had an impressive individual game. He led all scorers with 19 points on 8-11 shooting. Although Rivers leans towards the streaky, when he is on he is a very exciting player to watch. Rivers is a very skilled ball handler with a step-back jump shot that is just about as good as it gets. He also brings a bit of edge and attitude to the floor that complements the steadiness of his veteran teammates off the bench. Fans should expect a lot from Rivers this season. He’s a spark plug, and severely underrated.
Blake Griffin also played well, recording 18 points and 10 rebounds. Notably, Griffin’s offensive performance moved him past former Clipper Corey Maggette into the number 4 spot on the Clippers’ all-time points list. Griffin has now scored 8,846 points as a Clipper, and at only 27, is well on his way to becoming the number 1 scoring leader in Clipper’s history. Only Elton Brand (9336), Bob McAdoo (9434) and Randy Smith (12,735) have scored more while with the Clippers franchise. Maggette, who currently works as an analyst for Fox Sports, took the news of Griffin’s accomplishment in stride.
Defense Wins Games
The Clippers defense was a key factor in this contest. The Clippers held the Jazz to 13 points in the second quarter and 40 points in the second half. The Jazz finished the game shooting only 37.9% from the field, and turned the ball over 18 times.
A surprising standout performance on defense came from veteran Marreese Speights. The former Golden State Warrior, who is fast becoming a fan favorite in Los Angeles, took four charges during the game, contributing significantly to the Clippers’ win despite struggling on offense with 1 for 8 shooting.
Rebounding was also a relative positive, but still needs to improve if the Clippers want to realize their Championship aspirations. The Clippers finished with 35 defensive rebounds and 14 offensive rebounds, compared to the Jazz’s 36 defensive rebounds and 7 offensive rebounds. DeAndre Jordan, who sat out a stretch of the game after injuring his hand, snatched 16 of the squad’s total rebounds.
The Clippers have a tough schedule to start the season. They play 20 games in the next 35 days, with four sets of back-to-backs including elite teams including the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers. Although daunting, these early season challenges will allow the Clippers an opportunity to test their depth, test different rotations, improve their rebounding, and gel offensively. It will be interesting to see just where this very talented squad is come mid-December.
Next up: the Clippers take on the Phoenix Suns at home on Halloween night.