Jazz defeat Clippers after fourth seed is secured pregame

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
Battle of reserves comes down to last shot, as Clippers clinch home court advantage in the first round.

LOS ANGELES — The Clippers were on the losing side of a very fun 110-109 game between the reserves of both teams, that came down to the last shot at the buzzer. 

The starters for the Clippers were slated to begin the game due to the uncertain results of the Mavericks game against the Pistons. Shortly before tipoff though, it was announced that the Clippers had secured the fourth seed after Dallas lost. 

James Harden, Terance Mann, Paul George and Ivica Zubac all played 10 minutes or less, however all four of them combined for 29 points in those minutes. 

The Jazz also had eight players inactive for Friday’s game, so it was a battle of the reserves that ultimately turned into a very fun bout towards the end of the game. 

Bones Hyland traded scoring blows with Kenneth Lofton Jr. down the stretch, but a missed three by Xavier Moon ultimately ended the game and sealed defeat for the Clippers.  

The Clippers are now 51-30 and have clinched the fourth seed in the Western Conference. 

Here are my three takeaways:

We knew it would be round three of the Clippers-Mavericks playoff matchups, but now it is certain that the first two games will be in Los Angeles. While it is important to clinch a playoff spot in general, it will be excellent for the team to get five days off after their regular season finale on Sunday. 

Not just that, but now it certifies that if the series gets to seven games (which is a high possibility), that it will be played at the Clippers’ home arena. This will be a matchup for the ages so any advantages will be widely advantageous. 

On the Bally Sports broadcast, when asked about Kawhi Leonard, Lawrence Frank said, “With Kawhi, he’s dealing with inflammation. It’s no secret he’s had a couple surgeries to that knee. It’s not uncommon over the course of it where you deal with inflammation.” 

Obviously that is not the update that Clipper fans would like to hear, but at least it is encouraging that Leonard was out on the bench and interacting with teammates with a smile. 

Even Coach Lue after the game, when asked if Kawhi would play during the playoffs, said, “That is what we want to see…” Again, another vague answer that does not give much clarity, but it could be worse. Looks like we will again be on injury watch throughout the entirety of next week…

When the starters were removed from the game, it became a repeat of the last game against the Phoenix Suns. Although Hyland didn’t score 37 points on Friday, he did have 20 points, while Amir Coffey had 16 points of his own. This team scrapped and clawed even when they went down in the third quarter and that is something to be proud of.

What I really loved was the play of Kobe Brown, the 30th pick in the 2023 draft by the Clippers. He came in and immediately infused the team with energy and smart play. Brown even had a breakaway reverse dunk that got the Arena crowd rocking. 

Brown could be an excellent wing piece for the team next year and already, I have seen some strides in his game, both physically and mentally, from watching since training camp. 

The Clippers finish out the regular season on Sunday against the Houston Rockets. Tipoff is set for 12:30 PM PST.