SALT LAKE CITY - Yes, Chauncey Billups flopped, hit two free throws and the Jazz lost by one. But don't blame the refs for that game. Blame the Jazz.
The Jazz had battled for three long quarters and entered the fourth with a nice, perhaps slightly tenuous, 10-point lead. The bench was holding there own for most of it, but then the Jazz went cold on both ends to fall 105-104 at home.
The Jazz outplayed them for sure in two quarters to build their lead. They came out hot in the first to finish with a 12-point advantage and held the Clippers to 22 points in the third. But, they gave up 64 points in the other two quarters and that just won't get it done.
"It all starts defensively for us, you guys know that," said Gordon Hayward. "That's how it's been all season for us."
Both sides of the ball were missing in the final quarter, but the defense is where they didn't get it done. One could point to the free throws as the difference maker, they made 7 in the final quarter taking 11, four of those being intentional fouls. The refs didn't make up the other 25 points.
In the end it was the Clippers that took control.
"They won the game," said Al Jefferson, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. "That's all I can say."
If the blame lies on the free throw line it still could be the Jazz's fault. Paul Millsap missed two in the fourth. The first was an early part of a pair he split, but the other was in crunch time when were clinging to a 3-point lead.
Lose by one after missing those is hard to argue.
The Jazz probably could have gone to the line more, but it didn't work out that way.
"I think we are doing whatever we can to try and get an opportunity to get there," said head coach Tyrone Corbin. "We're going inside. We are an attack inside team first. For whatever reason other teams seem to get more free throws than we do. We're just going to keep working inside and hopefully it balances itself out."
They won the game. That's all I can say.
The Jazz ended with 50 points in the paint, but weren't able to get them when it counted. The offense went cold in the end going almost a minute and a half without a point while the Clippers scored six.
The biggest turning point in the game was probably with :24 left and the Jazz were down two. The ball was being moved and Jefferson found himself open in the key with the ball. He moved towards the basket and went to gently push it up. DeAndre Jordan had time to slide back into position and block the shot.
"If I'd have seen him I wouldn't have shot like that," Jefferson said of the play.
The Jazz went down four, which was the Clippers largest lead and only since the opening minutes, and that was the end.
Mo Williams had 20 points and 12 assists against his former team, but also was called for the phantom foul. When asked about it he just shrugged his shoulders and kept quiet.
The chances were there for the Jazz. They shot 57 percent on the night. But they were shot 44 percent in the fourth. In the first half the Jazz held a 21 to 10 rebounding edge. The end of the game the Clippers were only down 41-36.
It is easy to blame this one on a bad call from a ref, it was. But for the Jazz to become a great team they need to take control of the game, regardless of any outside force.