Kawhi Leonard Says Clippers Have 'a Lot of Fight Left' Despite 2-0 Deficit vs. Jazz

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJune 11, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 10: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers drives to the basket during the game against the Utah Jazz during Round 2, Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 10, 2021 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard said the team won't back down from the challenge of trying to come back from a 2-0 series deficit for the second straight series after a Game 2 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

"We all got to put our will out on the floor," Leonard told reporters. "You know, see what we did in the first two games and try to limit our mistakes and just keep going on from there pretty much. We'll see [on Friday] what we got to do, and we've got a lot of fight left. So you know, we're up for the challenge."

The Clippers trailed their first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks at 2-0 and 3-2 before winning the final two games to advance.

L.A. had three players surpass 20 points in Game 2 against the Jazz—Reggie Jackson (29), Paul George (27) and Leonard (21)—but no other player scored more than eight, and the team struggled mightily to come up with key stops defensively.

Utah shot 55.3 percent from the field and knocked down 20 threes en route to the commanding 2-0 series advantage. Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 37 after scoring 45 in Game 1.

George explained the Clippers are "optimistic that we can get this under control" and get the series back level with the next two games on their home floor at Staples Center.

"We've got to give them credit," George said. "This is a tough opponent. They weren't No. 1 in the West for no reason. ... But, you know, we are approaching this the same way Dallas was—we still feel we have a lot of possessions that we can clean up, a lot of possessions that are hurting us that's our fault."

It was a similar story against Dallas. Los Angeles allowed 240 points over the first two games before holding Dallas to an average of 100.4 points over the final five games to turn the series around.

The Clippers will need to up their defensive performance once again if they're going to forge another comeback against the more well-rounded Jazz, who ranked third in the NBA in offensive efficiency during the regular season, per ESPN.

Game 3 is a virtual must-win situation for L.A. Utah posted the league's best record at home (31-5) during the regular season, so any comeback that would have to include two victories on the road would represent a likely insurmountable deficit.

Leonard, George and Co. can get right back in the series by defending their own home floor, though. The next game comes Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.