Utah Jazz: Three takeaways from statement win over Clippers

Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
4 of 4
Utah Jazz
Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz. Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Jordan Clarkson impresses

What I thought would be the X-Factor of this game is the bench. I knew that the Clippers already boasted a deep bench with not one but two candidates for the NBA’s sixth man of the year award. Doc Rivers has relied on the bench multiple times to play heavy minutes and ease the load of their two superstars.

Meanwhile the Jazz came into this game having to distrust their bench in order to win against lottery teams. Quin Snyder would dispatch his bench players, but not any longer than his players needed to rest. If his starting five were all capable of playing 48 minutes a night I’m sure he would let them play all game if he could.

Tonight the Jazz bench was outscored by two points, 35 to 37. The fact that Utah was able to keep up with the Clippers’ (admittedly shorthanded) bench was huge; the only way the Jazz pulled that off tonight was because of the play of Jordan Clarkson.

What would have happened had the Jazz still possessed Dante Exum tonight? I’m afraid the only playing time Ex would’ve seen is garbage time in the final minutes. Without Clarkson, Donovan Mitchell would have had to gun for a 50 point night and sacrifice his efficiency and passing game.

Clarkson scored 19 points in just 25 minutes, including an impressive four point play. In the second quarter I wasn’t very impressed with Clarkson’s defense, especially on Lou Williams. He would let his man get to the rim at ease and that created trouble for the Jazz protecting the rim.

In the second half Clarkson was able to lock in on defense, even guarding Kawhi Leonard for a few possessions in the fourth quarter. I was concerned about his lack of defense but he appears willing to put forth the effort to be a better defender. With his athleticism and willing heart, he should be able to learn how to play defense in Quin’s system and blend in with his Jazz teammates.

And his scoring? It’s been as good as advertised. He is one of the league leaders in points scored off the bench and is making the Jazz front office look better and better for acquiring him for two second round picks and a former lottery pick. It’s only been two games since Clarkson became a Jazzman, but he’s already proving his value to the team.

Next. Utah Jazz can use upcoming stretch as a launch pad. dark

The Utah Jazz pulling out a victory over the star-studded Los Angeles Clippers has to be one of the signature moments of 2019, and snuck in right in the nick of time before the calendar flips to 2020.