Sunday, October 17, 2021

‘Game 3 is all that matters,’ Reggie Jackson says after leading Clippers in Game 2 loss to Jazz

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Would the outcome of Game 1 Tuesday night between the Clippers and the Jazz been different if Reggie Jackson had been able to stay on the floor for more than 17 minutes?

The 10-year veteran out Boston College seems to think so.

Just two nights after scoring a mere nine points and fouling out with six minutes left in the Clippers’ Game 1 loss at Vivint Smart Home Arena, Jackson scored a team-high 29 points Thursday night in Game 2 while going 11 of 19 from the field and 4 of 8 from 3-point range. Seemingly more important to the 31-year-old guard was that he played 36 minutes while committing just one foul.

When asked the difference between his performance on Tuesday and in L.A.’s 117-111 loss, Jackson replied simply, “Different refs.”

“We had different refs, so it was reffed differently and they allowed me to play,” he said.

Jackson, who knocked down three 3-pointers in a mere 17 minutes of playing time on Tuesday, was the driving force for the Clippers in the second half as the visiting team managed to dig themselves out of the 21-point deficit it found itself in early in the third quarter.

After a Joe Ingles layup staked the Jazz to a 76-55 advantage with nearly nine minutes to go in the period, Jackson scored seven of the game’s next nine points and continued to be an offensive factor as Los Angeles’ switch to zone defense took the swagger out of Utah’s offense.

The Clippers’ 23-6 run closed the gap to as few as four points in the fourth quarter. Then L.A. completed its comeback midway through the period. Jackson buried a deep 3-pointer to pull the Clippers to within 99-98 with seven minutes left in the game, then moments later found himself in the perfect position to receive a ball that teammate Patrick Beverly had tipped away from Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell near half court.

Jackson grabbed the basketball near the 3-point line, looked into the paint for an open teammate, then decided to take the shot himself and connected, giving the Clippers a 101-99 lead — L.A.’s one and only advantage of Game 2.

Jackson’s trey quickly led to a timeout by Utah head coach Quin Snyder with 6:37 remaining. Coming out of that pause, the Jazz responded with an impossible, high-glass score by Ingles and a 3-pointer by Bojan Bogdanovic, regaining the lead that they would hold onto down the stretch.

“You can’t dig yourself a big hole like that against a good team because then you have to expend all that energy to get back into the game and don’t have enough to finish,” Los Angeles head coach Tyronn Lue said. “You just can’t dig holes like that, especially on the road. … We talked about getting off to a good start, but once again, Donovan Mitchell got them off to a great start, and they just kind of took off from there.”

As a team, the Clippers shot 47.1% from the field and went 11 for 30 from 3-point range after knocking down 42.4% of their overall attempts and 16 of 42 shots from beyond the arc in Game 1. Superstars Paul George (27 points on 8 of 18 shots) and Kawhi Leonard (21 points on 8 of 17 shots) didn’t have great shooting nights, making Jackson’s performance critical for the Clippers’ comeback attempt.

Ultimately, that effort came up short as L.A. went nearly five minutes without a field goal after Jackson’s 3-pointer gave the Clippers’ their only lead. But despite that scoring drought, Lue said he was “very happy” with his team’s shot selection late in the game.

“What else can you get? We had four or five wide-open threes; we just didn’t make them,” Lue said. “… We got good shots, we just didn’t make ‘em. Hopefully next time they go down.”

Now down 0-2, the Clippers do have the benefit of knowing that they were able to rebound from a similar hole in their first-round matchup with the Dallas Mavericks, after losing the first two games of that series on their home floor.

“It gives us confidence,” Jackson said of Saturday night’s game at the Staples Center. “… We get to go home, and Game 3 is all that matters. Do whatever we can to get a win, and then we’ll go from there.”



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