The Utah Jazz pulled off a huge Game 1 upset over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, thanks to the heroics of Joe Johnson.
The Jazz seemed to be in deep trouble after starting center and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert hurt his knee on a collison on the opening play of the game. He had to be helped off the floor and did not return.
However, the Jazz kept scrapping, going to a small-ball lineup with 35-year-old former All-Star Joe Johnson manning the four.
With 13 seconds left, Chris Paul hit a driving layup to tie up the game. Johnson then coolly dribbled down the floor, worked his way inside, and hit the running floater to give the Jazz the win.
Johnson finished the game with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting, and the Jazz were a +6 with him on the court, a meaningful margin in such a close game.
Next up for the Jazz will be determining the severity of Gobert’s injury. Without him, they were still out-rebounded by the Clippers and would have a hard time beating LA’s big front-line and keeping people out of the paint over a seven-game series.
In the meantime, they stole back home-court advantage with a well-fought Game 1.
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