Sunday’s NBA playoffs: Jazz dispatch Clippers
Los Angeles — The young Utah Jazz have grown up quickly.
Gordon Hayward scored 26 points and the Jazz eliminated the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday with a 104-91 victory, closing out the first-round series 4-3 to earn the franchise’s first postseason victory since 2010.
“We’ve been through some pretty hard downs,” said Hayward, a seventh-year veteran. “It definitely feels really good to go from 25 wins to where we were this year making the playoffs, winning a series.”
George Hill and Derrick Favors added 17 points apiece for the Jazz in what proved to be the easiest game of the back-and-forth series.
The Jazz advanced to face top-seeded Golden State in the Western Conference semifinals. The Warriors swept Portland 4-0 and have been waiting since Wednesday to find out their next opponent.
Game 1 is Tuesday in Oakland.
The Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan had 24 points and 17 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the series. Jamal Crawford added 20 points off the bench.
Chris Paul had 13 points for the Clippers, who were sent packing in the first round for the second straight year. Last season, they lost to Portland after Paul and Blake Griffin went down with injuries. This time, they didn’t have Griffin again after he was lost in Game 3 with a big-toe injury.
“It came down to today to keep us afloat, keep us alive,” Paul said. “We’re done.”
In the most closely contested series of the first round — and the only to go seven games — the Clippers came up strangely flat with their season on the line. J.J. Redick didn’t hit his first 3-pointer until the game’s final 3 ½ minutes, drawing the Clippers within eight.
“Late, when we did start scoring, we couldn’t get stops,” Paul said.
He couldn’t muster any of his fourth-quarter magic, either. Paul went scoreless with three assists in the period after tweaking an ankle in the third.
“We made it difficult for Chris Paul to get in the lane, get his little pullup jump shot,” Hayward said. “Guys on the weak side were rotated, making them make the extra pass and make some other guys try to create for them.”
In the fourth, the Jazz were well in command, ahead by 17 points and hardly feeling pressured by foul trouble for Rudy Gobert and Favors, who both fouled out. Gobert finished with one point in 14 minutes. Favors had 11 rebounds off the bench.
“I was struggling a lot this season with injuries and my teammates had to hold it down for me,” Favors said. “I felt like I owed them, especially in this game.”
The first six games between the fourth-seeded Clippers and No. 5 Utah were decided by eight points or less with Los Angeles outscoring Utah 98.8 points to 98.0 points. The teams had identical 51-31 records in the regular season.
But this one was all Utah in the second half.
The Jazz opened the third on a 23-9 run, extending their lead to 69-48 — largest in the series. Boris Diaw had eight points, Hayward added six and Hill four as the Jazz had three three-point plays.
The Clippers got bogged down with a shot-clock turnover, a delay of game warning and Redick’s airball on a 3-point attempt while the home crowd went silent.
This time, the Jazz didn’t need the big-shot heroics of Joe Johnson or the presence of Gobert.
The Clippers, whose only lead was one point minutes into the game, shot 44 percent, and were outscored 56-46 in the paint and 12-9 on fast-break points.
“There’s no excuses,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We lost.”
(At) Boston 123, Washington 111: Isaiah Thomas had 33 points and nine assists, and the Celtics made 19 3-pointers to beat the Wizards and take a 1-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup.
Thomas played just a day after attending the funeral for his sister, who died in a car accident last month outside of Tacoma, Washington.
Al Horford added 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Jae Crowder finished with 24 points.
The Wizards were more energetic at the outset, jumping out to a 16-0 advantage and leading by as many as 17 points. But the Celtics rallied in the second quarter with Thomas briefly sidelined after getting one of his two front teeth knocked out.
Bradley Beal led Washington with 27 points. John Wall added 20 points and 16 assists.
Washington starter Markieff Morris played just 11 minutes before leaving with a sprained left ankle in the second quarter.
A rivalry has been simmering between the teams since last year, when Boston swept the season series.
They split their four regular-season matchups this season, but each included intense moments.
Sunday’s matchup was played at just as high a level, with a frenzied pace at times and physical play underneath the basket.
After the Wizards’ early scoring flurry, Thomas lost his tooth in a collision, and initially played through it. He found his tooth during a timeout, but started the second quarter on the bench while getting it repositioned in the locker room.
His teammates went on a 13-2 run without him to cut into Washington’s lead.
Boston led by 15 at the end of the third before a 9-0 spurt by the Wizards to start the final period closed the gap.
Thomas arrived back in Boston early Sunday. It was the second cross-country trip for him since Chyna Thomas died in a car accident last month, the day before the Celtics opened their first-round series against Chicago.
The Celtics star flew with Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and assistant coach Jerome Allen.
During player introductions, Thomas pointed to the TD Garden rafters when his name was called.