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Los Angeles Clippers vs. Utah Jazz: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Clippers

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIDecember 29, 2012

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Utah Jazz: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Clippers

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    If you were looking for drama, then you got it in Utah.

    The Los Angeles Clippers extended their winning streak to 16 games with a 116-114 victory over the Utah Jazz. This came after the Clippers trailed by as many as 19 points with 8:08 remaining in the third quarter.

    Behind Chris Paul's 22 second-half points, the Clippers were able to come back and keep the streak alive.

    With a horrific first half and unbelievable second, how do the grades balance out? Those questions are about to be answered, as the Clippers' 16th consecutive win will be dissected.

    Who saw this one coming?

Chris Paul, Point Guard

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    Overall Grade: A+

    Chris Paul had just seven points and three assists during the first half. And then the third and fourth quarters rolled around.

    We'll take sealing a victory as a more important aspect of his performance than his poor shooting.

    For the night, CP3 finished with 29 points, six assists, two rebounds and one steal. He committed just one turnover and turned a poor start into a great finish.

    A plus-minus of positive-14 is evidence.

    Twenty-two second half points are reason to believe CP3 deserves an A+. As we will emphasize throughout these games, it is about how you finish.

    Not how you start.

    Without CP3, this 19-point comeback would not have been possible. CP3 was able to overcome a weak first half and orchestrate one of the most magical comebacks of the year.

    How about that for maintaining a winning streak?

Willie Green, Shooting Guard

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    Overall Grade: B-

    In 16 minutes, Willie Green managed to score 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. He also made two three-pointers and picked up a steal in that time.

    Another solid outing from the former Detroit Titan.

    Truth be told, there isn't much to say about Green's evening. He scored eight of his 10 points during a high-powered first quarter, but the Clippers' seven-point lead evaporated into a 19-point deficit.

    He played well when active, but his contributions were limited in effectiveness. Even so, it was an encouraging sign.

Caron Butler, Small Forward

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    Overall Grade: B

    Caron Butler scored 14 points, but none were more important than his four-point play during the fourth quarter.

    With the Clippers trailing, 90-86, with 9:08 remaining, Butler drained a 23-foot three-pointer off of the feed from Lamar Odom. Butler would draw contact on Gordon Hayward and connect on the free throw.

    Thus tying the game after the Clippers had trailed by as many as 19 points.

    Butler may not garner the headlines, but the Clippers would not have won this game without him. He was one of the few to score during the first half and continue at that rate during the fourth quarter.

    There's nothing better for momentum than a four-point play. We're just surprised it wasn't Jamal Crawford who picked it up.

Blake Griffin, Power Forward

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    Overall Grade: A+

    For those who doubt Blake Griffin's status as a legitimate NBA star, allow tonight's game against Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors to speak volumes.

    Griffin finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds, completing his 13th double-double of the season.

    Following an "and-one" by DeAndre Jordan, Griffin would do the same at the 4:59 mark. He'd cut the lead to just one point with the free throw.

    Between he and Jordan, the Clippers countered fire with fire as two elite frontcourts determined this outcome.

    Aside from the fourth quarter, Griffin was huge during the Clippers' third-quarter comeback. Griffin would score four key points to overcome an 18-point deficit.

    Regardless of how you cut it, Griffin was phenomenal. In fact, he was the Clippers' most consistent performer all night.

    The A+ is well-deserved.

DeAndre Jordan, Center

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    Overall Grade: A+

    If you weren't impressed with DeAndre Jordan, you need to stop watching basketball.

    Jordan was a monster against the Utah Jazz, tallying his fifth double-double of the season. He did so with marks of 16 points and 10 rebounds.

    Ten of those points came during the 19-point second-half comeback.

    Tack on three steals and you have yourself a phenomenal evening.

    The signature moments for Jordan came during the fourth quarter, as he brought L.A. right back into this one.

    With the Clippers down five, Jordan grabbed a Matt Barnes miss and converted a close two with contact. He'd connect on the free throw, thus cutting the lead to four points.

    Two minutes later, he did it again. This time around, Jordan would give the Clippers a one-point lead.

    Thus completing a comeback from 19 points down and solidifying an outstanding evening.

Jamal Crawford, Sixth Man

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    Overall Grade: C+

    Jamal Crawford finished the game with a plus-minus of negative-6. That doesn't tell the story of how poorly he started, but it shows how well he finished.

    As we all know, it's about how you close out. J-Crossover's grade improves for that reason.

    Crawford scored six points and dished out three assists during the fourth quarter.

    Crawford's grade suffers due to his poor start and 3-of-11 shooting from the floor. Fortunately, 12 points, five assists and 6-of-7 shooting from the charity stripe is respectable from a reserve.

    By respectable, of course, we're talking downright impressive. You know, when you get over the first half.

Reserves

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    Overall Grade: D-

    What in the world happened to the Los Angeles Clippers' second unit?

    Known for their limitless depth and well-rounded production, LAC's reserves tallied just 25 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds, five steals and no blocks.

    Weak. Especially by their standards.

    Matt Barnes struggled early, failing to see his shot fall and committing two turnovers and four fouls in 25 minutes. Fortunately, Barnes managed to hit two three-pointers and make a clutch defensive play on Randy Foye's buzzer-beating attempt.

    Eric Bledsoe and Ronny Turiaf each posted plus-minus ratings of negative-12 in 10 and nine minutes, respectively.

    Lamar Odom also struggled, posting his worst stat line of the month with three points, one rebound, one assist and one steal. He committed two turnovers and three personal fouls in 14 minutes.

    The reserves let this one slip away and nearly lost. A rare terrible grade here.

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