Game 4 Relived: Every Moment of a Crazy Close in Jazz-Clips

April 23rd, 2017 | by Dan Clayton

Some games should be recapped. This wasn’t one of them.

No, we’re not going to simply recap everything that happened in a wild final eight minutes of the Jazz’s 105-98 Game 4 win over the Clippers — we’re going to relive them. Here is what happened on every late possession of this instant classic.

Setting the stage: The Jazz got star big man Rudy Gobert back from a knee injury, but his minutes are limited. Gordon Hayward has left the arena and is at home, um, not feeling well1. After contracting food poisoning, Hayward mostly scuttled through nine minutes before his symptoms forced him to call it a night. Now there are eight minutes left and the Jazz, in a must-win game, trail 84-80 on their home court, and it’s Clipper basketball.

7:53 LAC score – Chris Paul crosses midcourt with 7:59 to play. He throws on the burners and George Hill is playing from behind. Gobert steps over to help, but – worried about the threat of Marreese Speights from three, he retreats. Paul scores a layup at 7:53. Six seconds. Feels like a back-breaker. Clippers by 6.

7:40 Jazz TO – Hill and Gobert run a pick-and-roll, but the paint is crowded and Hill tries to force a lob pass that careens off the rim. Turnover.

7:37 Clipper score – Wesley Johnson streaks off the Jazz turnover and draws a fast break foul. Makes one of two shots, Clippers are up by 7. In between his two attempts Joe Johnson checks in. This might become important.

7:22 Jazz TO – Another Hill/Gobert P&R. It’s crowded again, as Paul is once again helping about 15 feet off of Shelvin Mack even though he’s on the strong side2. Hill is surrounded by three Clippers, and his pass back to the rolling Rudy is either a bit high or is just plain mishandled by Gobert. Jazz still trail by 7.

7:10 Clipper miss – A Paul/Speights P&R draws a trap from Gobert, so Speights pops. But he misses the three and Gobert rebounds. OK, there’s some hope.

6:57 Jazz score – This time Joe Ingles handles for pretty much the entire possession. JJ Redick ices3 a trailing Gobert screen, so Jingles just takes off into the lane, snaking through and waiting for something to open up. Everybody reacts either to Ingles or to a rim dive by Gobert, so Johnson is open on the baseline. His floater cuts the Clipper lead to 5. 87-82.

Timeout L.A., which they use to get Luc Mbah a Moute and DeAndre Jordan back in the game. Both teams are small now. The Jazz are finally able to sub in Derrick Favors, who has been waiting to take over for Gobert, ostensibly because of the latter’s minute restriction.

6:37 Clipper TO – Another high P&R for Paul, and this time instead of contain from the free throw line, Favors steps out to corral him. He and Hill trap the eight-time All-NBA guard, forcing him to travel. Paul, because he’s Chris Paul, stays there slowly mimicking a legal pivot for the referees three or four times before he gives the ball up.

6:19 Jazz score – The Jazz run one of their favorite Hayward actions to get Johnson the ball at angle left. He goes over a couple of screens, but it’s the Ingles pick that stops Mbah a Moute in his tracks, giving Johnson a chance to turn and pop a three. Things are getting interesting now: Clippers by just two. Somewhere, the NBA Jam voice says, “He’s heating up!”

5:57 Clipper miss – Same P&R for Paul, again Favors steps out and forces him all the way to the baseline. Paul has to kick it out. Jordan finds Redick, but a great close by Ingles makes him delay the shot and after he bricks it, the Jazz get the ball back.

5:43 Jazz score – Another pet Hayward play to get Johnson the ball: the Jazz have Johnson and Gobert line up in horns, but Johnson pops out of it to the left angle again. He gets a Favors screen, snakes with Mbah a Moute on his hip, and gets to the lane for a floater. Tie ball game! The Viv erupts.

5:02 Clipper score –Hill ices the pick to force Paul to the sideline into a Hill-Favors trap. He launches an off-balanced three, but the Clippers secure the miss. Paul gets it back and baits Mack into on of those rip-through fouls out beyond the three-point line. Paul makes all three. Jazz sub in Rodney Hood for Mack. Clips by 3.

4:38 Jazz score – Yet another common set-up: Utah runs the 1-3 pick-and-roll they often run for Hayward, only this time is gets Johnson isolated up top. Johnson again snakes Mbah a Moute all the way to the paint, but the defender recovers with a short shot clock. Johnson throws up a Dirk Nowitzkiesque, knee-out fader that clears the net just as the shot clock expires. Clippers by 1, 90-89.

4:09 Clipper miss – Another good Favors show forces Paul to give the ball up. He gets it back, but without much time to execute a play, so he isos Hill, but his jumper misses. So does the second effort by Jordan, and the Jazz take control.

3:57 Jazz score – The Jazz run a stagger for the suddenly red-hot Johnson. Mbah a Moute recovers so at this point, Johnson is essentially trapped at the elbow, but he does not care. He unleashes another teardrop floater. Jazz go up 91-90 and Joe has now scored all of the Jazz’s points in an 11-3 run.

Timeout Doc Rivers. Closeup on the injured Blake Griffin, who’s chewing his gum.

3:42 Clipper TO – The Clippers run double floppy4 for Redick and Jamal Crawford, who had 25 points up to that point. He gets the ball curling around the right side, but turns it over against Hood’s pressure. Here come the Jazz.

3:24 Jazz score – The Jazz go side to side twice, resulting in Hill catching against a closing defender in the left corner. He goes into the lane and bounces it to the opposite corner for Johnson, who relays the pass to the right angle for Ingles. José English buries a three. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer doesn’t look happy. Jazz lead, 94-90.

3:05 Clipper score – Clippers run floppy for Redick who curls back around into the paint and draws a foul. Two-for-two, the Jazz lead is now 94-92.

2:41 Jazz TO – The Jazz run again run some action designed to get Johnson the ball at angle left. He can’t get free from LMAM, so he gives it up to Ingles who accelerates around the closeout. He tries the pocket pass to Favors, but the Clips sniff it out. Turnover, still Jazz by 2.

2:33 Clipper miss – Crawford keeps it off the Jazz TO, and accelerates behind a Jordan backpick at halfcourt. Favors sees it, though and steps out to take him. He stays attached all the way to the baseline, forcing a tough floater that hits back iron. Johnson rebounds. Seriously, this play (and 6:37, 5:57, 5:02 and 4:09) shows the value of having a fresh Favors available late. As we talked about after Game 3, Fav just ran out of steam late on Friday. But in this 24-minute outing, he still has the legs left to challenge a 25-point scorer. Spoiler alert: Crawford would remain a 25-point scorer.

2:13 Jazz score – Jazz get Redick switched onto Johnson, so he backs him down into the post until help comes. When it comes, Johnson fires a pass to an open Hood, who had struggled for most of the night. He drilled the open three, though. Jazz lead 97-92.

1:51 Clipper miss – A Paul-Redick P&R leads to a switch, but Ingles’ defense won’t let Paul get the ball back. The Clips are hurrying, so Redick has to fire a shot off over Hill. He misses, Johnson rebounds.

1:30 Jazz score – With the clock on Utah’s side now, Johnson slowly brings the ball up. The Jazz run a Johnson-Hood P&R. LMAM jumps out at Hood, so he drives and puts up a jump hook in the lane. That’s five quick ones for Hood, who was 4-for-14 before those two plays. Jazz by 7.

Twenty-second timeout for L.A. Griffin chews gum.

1:20 Clipper score – Clips run a small-to-small P&R to get Ingles switched onto Paul. Paul drives, and Fav steps out to contest, but Paul gets the shot just high enough. Clips still trail by 5, but Jazz fans everywhere break out into a cold sweat as they get flashbacks of Friday’s Chris Paul show.

0:58 Jazz score – Utah again milks the clock, with a Johnson iso on the right side of the floor. The crowd gets GIDDY when Crawford winds up switched onto him. Eventually he backs down Crawford to the paint, and when help comes, he finds Ingles open in the left corner. Jazz by 8. Holy smokes. Johnson has now assisted three straight three-pointers. Combined with his 11 points, that means he has now been responsible for scoring or assisting 20 of the Jazz’s points in a 22-7 spurt.

0:50 Clipper score – Clips have to go quick, and the Jazz are just trying not to foul. So when Favors traps the P&R and Jordan dives all the way to the rim, Ingles barely challenges. Jazz up 6.

0:29 Jazz score – The Clips hurry and commit their last foul to give so that they’ll have the option of fouling if needed. Then Johnson runs the clock before driving on LMAM. He misses (yeah, that happens sometimes), but Fav gets fouled on the tap attempt, and makes one of two. Jazz lead 103-96, and the writing is on the wall.

0:19 Clipper miss – LA’s last-ditch effort at making it close is a three for Paul out of the P&R. But he doesn’t have much time to begin with, and Favors has a great contest on a switch. Johnson recovers and gets fouled, and now it’s pretty much all academic.

0:18 Jazz score – Johnson makes both. Jazz by a game-high 9 points.

0:11 Clipper score – Paul drives on Hill, who lets him go because everybody knows the game is over and he just wants to avoid fouling.

0:00 – The Jazz pass out of a half-assed trap and get the ball up to Favors, who dribbles out the clock. Utah wins, 105-98.

All told, the Jazz scored on 11 of their final 12 possessions. Johnson scored on six of those, assisted another three. Meanwhile, the Clippers at one point came up empty on seven of nine possessions. Favors came up huge on all seven of those stops, showing the mobility and lift he lacked on Friday night toward the end of his season-high 38 minutes. Tonight he played 24.

The Jazz pulled even at 2-2 with the win. They’re now essentially heading into a best-of-three series, and might have all their main guys on Tuesday when the series resumes in LA. The Clippers still get to play two of the final three on their court, but they’ll do so without Griffin, who likes gum.

That game will certainly live on the list of classic Jazz playoff games.

Dan Clayton

Dan Clayton

Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City, but contributes regularly to Salt City Hoops, FanRag and BBALLBreakdown.
Dan Clayton


  1. John Jenkins says:

    If things go the Jazz way in the playoffs, this game could be the key to a long turn around and life a life of its own. Sometimes teams win games. The tale is in the pudding.

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