Los Angeles Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. (8) looks to pass the ball around Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (11) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 18, 2022. (Rob Gray, Associated Press)
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SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn’t hard to conjure the memories of nine months ago as the Utah Jazz made their way through the tunnels of Crypto.com Arena ahead of Tuesday’s game.
It was, after all, the scene of last season’s great collapse — when they lost a 25-point second-half lead to lose Game 6 to the LA Clippers and end their season.
It wasn’t too hard to think of them during Tuesday night’s game, either.
Utah had a 25-point lead in the third quarter and with 3:24 left in the fourth, it was gone. Deja vu doesn’t begin to describe it. The same court, the same team, and the same lead.
Oh, it was the same result, too.
There weren’t any demons exorcized in LA on Tuesday, just another reminder of how little things have changed (if not gotten worse) since June. Utah continued its slump toward the playoffs by dropping its fifth straight game in a 121-115 loss to the Clippers.
At the 8:07 mark of the third quarter, Rudy Gobert finished a layup that put the Jazz up 76-51. If you were watching, you probably had the same thought and made the same joke: A 25-point third-quarter lead against the Clippers, where have we seen this before?
It was a joke because, of course , it wouldn’t happen again, right? That would be ridiculous, and the Jazz were playing too well. Mike Conley dominated the Clippers like he was back in a Memphis Grizzlies jersey, Donovan Mitchell was showed he only needed one-and-a-half good ankles, and Gobert had one of his best defensive outings of the season.
That all couldn’t go wrong together, right?
In a season of lows, the Jazz may have hit another one. The freshly returned Paul George scored 20 points in the third quarter to get the Clippers into striking distance; and in the fourth, the Jazz wilted
The Clippers went on a 25-6 run in the fourth quarter to add to Utah’s woes.
George had a game-high 34 points and six assists in his first game back since December.
Mitchell finished with 33 points, six assists and six turnovers. But he called a timeout with six seconds left when the Jazz didn’t have one, which earned a technical and effectively ended the game.
The Jazz dropped to 45-31 and into a tie with Denver. They are now just two games up on Minnesota for the seventh seed.
This story will be updated.