It only took 11 seconds for reality to set in: The Utah Jazz would be without Rudy Gobert. The potential Defensive Player of the Year crawled up-court on all fours after banging knees with Luc Mbah a Moute early in the first quarter, unable to get to his feet under his own power.
He was later carried to the locker room, never to return, diagnosed with a hyperextension and bone bruise in his left knee.
But even without Gobert, their leading shot-blocker, rebounder and third-leading scorer, the Jazz survived a late-game Clippers rally, 97-95, and watched Joe Johnson bury their opponent with a game-winning floater. Had it not been for Chris Paul’s fourth-quarter heroics, scoring 10 straight points down the stretch, the Jazz would have run away in the final period behind Johnson and Gordon Hayward’s crunch time scoring.
This was against a Los Angeles team supposedly taking a step toward contention this season.
A series loss for the Clippers could be the end of an era for a team that has consistently failed to meet expectations over the past few seasons. But losing to a Utah team without Gobert is an indictment on many levels.
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