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How sustainable is the Clippers' near-flawless offensive performance?

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George, left, shoots as Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale defends during the second half of Game 3 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George, left, shoots as Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale defends during the second half of Game 3 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) (Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press)



SALT LAKE CITY — The Los Angeles Clippers were near flawless on the offensive end in their 132-106 win over the Jazz in Game 3 on Saturday.

Their two stars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, both had over 30 points, and their role players shot lights out from 3-point range: Reggie Jackson was 5 of 6 from deep, Nicolas Batum was 4 of 6 and the Clippers as a team shot 53% from 3-point range.

In the end, LA scored 132 points on 93 possessions for an offensive rating of 140.4. The Clippers have had just three games all season with a better offensive performance; those games came against Portland, Minnesota and Sacramento — three of the four worst defensive teams in the league.

Considering the Jazz were one of the best defensive teams during the regular season, what happened?

"I don't know, I could be wrong and you can tweet I'm wrong if I am, but I felt like they made a lot more shots tonight in general, whether that be at the rim or 3s," Joe Ingles said.

He's not wrong. The Clippers hit 19 3-pointers Saturday — something they did just 10 times all season.

So they did make a lot of shots, but was it just a case of some shooters getting hot or were the Jazz allowing them to get there?

"I think it's all connected," Rudy Gobert said. "Obviously, you got to give them credit. They shot the ball very well from 3. I don't know, I don't have the numbers, but it really felt like they were hitting some contested ones, too, and we've got to make sure we don't give them the open ones; and we've got to make sure that, once again, we don't allow them to play in transition or to get offensive rebounds because we know that usually they're going to score off those opportunities.

"So give them credit. They made a lot of shots and we got to do a better job next game."

Not getting back on defense and allowing offensive boards have been the go-to's this season to explain poor defensive performances. Even in those games, though, the Jazz have been stout in the half court game. More or less, if Gobert was back anchoring the defense, it was going to be hard to score against them.

That wasn't the case in Game 3. The Clippers had an offensive rating of 130.1 against Utah's half-court defense.

The Jazz over helped at times, leaving open lanes for dunks, and under helped in others situations, which allowed rolls to the bacsket. There were miscommunications on who should be closing out on certain shooters and Utah's bigs struggled when they got stretched out to the perimeter.

"We weren't kind of dictating to them what we wanted to do defensively," Ingles said. "They kind of got downhill a bit more, got in the paint. … So, yeah, obviously it starts kind of with them making shots, but that's on us as well. We can get better closeouts, we messed up some rotations and some over-help or whatever it was on some of them. So again, we'll look at the tape, we'll make some adjustments and we'll come back."

The Clippers didn't make it a secret they were going to attack Derrick Favors on drives; Paul George especially took advantage as he went 4 of 6 on drives — though the Jazz didn't fare too much better with Gobert in, either. The freshly crowned defensive player of the year had one of his least impactful games in some time.

"I think tonight we didn't do a great job being loud and talking to each other throughout the whole game," Gobert said. "We did it at times, and I think we're going to be better next game doing that. It's on me being better when I help, making better decisions; and also it's on all of us to make sure that we don't give up easy drives."

And then the Jazz can hope the Clippers don't make so many shots next time.

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