LA Clippers

Utah Jazz, LA Clippers, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards

Chris Paul suffered another early playoff exit as Joe Ingles and the Jazz sprung the upset in LA.

CHRIS Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers suffered another premature playoff exit as Joe Ingles and the Utah Jazz booked a Western Conference semi-final date with the Golden State Warriors.

In a winner-takes-all game seven on the Clippers home floor, it was the Jazz that played like they had the advantage as they cruised to a 104-91 win.

After a quiet game six, Ingles was back to the form which saw him dominate earlier in the series as he put up 12 points on 4/6 shooting to go with four steals and five rebounds.

Waived by the Clippers back in 2014, Ingles exacted his revenge by sending them crashing out of the postseason. The Jazz joined the Warriors, Spurs and Rockets in the West’s final four.

Paul was unable to deliver the superstar impact the Clips needed in the absence of injured power forward Blake Griffin, hitting just 6/18 shots for 13 points.

His frustration was clear to see late in the fourth quarter as he lashed out and kicked his foot aggressively near Ingles’ head.

Gordon Hayward scored 26 points while George Hill and Derrick Favors added 17 points apiece in Utah’s first postseason series victory since 2010.

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.

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. JJ Redick didn’t hit his first three-pointer until the game’s final 3½ minutes, drawing the Clippers within eight.

Paul couldn’t muster any of his fourth-quarter magic, either. He went scoreless with three assists in the period.

By then, 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.

The first six games between the fourth-seeded Clippers and No. 5 Utah were decided by eight points or less. Los Angeles outscored 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 three-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 per cent, and were outscored 56-46 in the paint and 12-9 on fast-break points.

— AP

‘I WISH I HAD THAT KIND OF CHARACTER’

Boston Celtics' Avery Bradley (0) hugs teammate Isaiah Thomas (4). (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Boston Celtics’ Avery Bradley (0) hugs teammate Isaiah Thomas (4). (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)Source:AP

Isaiah Thomas shook off having a tooth knocked out and the heartache of his sister’s funeral to score 33 points and power the Boston Celtics past Washington 123-111 in game one of their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

Thomas went 11-of-23 from the floor, 6-of-7 from the free throw line and contributed nine assists as the Celtics battled back after surrendering the game’s first 16 points to beat the visiting Wizards.

“It was a team effort,” Thomas said. “We got down big. We didn’t give up. We didn’t put our head down. From the first guy to the last, everybody contributed and we got the win.”

The Boston guard flew across the country to play after speaking Saturday at his sister Chyna’s funeral in Washington state. She was killed two weeks ago in a car accident.

“Basketball, when I’m on the court, it just keeps me going,” Thomas said. “I do everything for my sister now and that’s all I can do. That’s all I can do.”

Thomas also had his left front tooth knocked out after being struck in the face by an elbow from Washington’s Otto Porter midway into the first quarter.

Thomas saw his tooth pop out and fall onto the court and, not missing a beat, went over and picked up the tooth off the floor and later handed it to a Celtics trainer, broadly displaying a bloodied gap-toothed smile on the bench after going 3-for-3 following the dental mishap and leading all first-half scorers with 19 points.

“I don’t know (how Thomas does it). I wish I had that kind of character,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

The Celtics outscored Washington 36-16 in the third quarter, in which they seized their first lead at 73-71 and stretched it to 95-80 entering the fourth. The Wizards made seven turnovers in the third quarter after only three in the entire first half.

From there, it was only a matter of holding off the Wizards down the stretch. Jae Crowder added 24 points for the Celtics while centre Al Horford had 21 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds and Avery Bradley netted 18 points.

Bradley Beal scored 27 points while John Wall added 20 points and 16 assists and Porter and Marcin Gortat each had 16 points.

Washington took a 64-59 halftime lead after opening on a 16-0 run, blanking the Celtics over almost four minutes at the start.

In the second quarter, Washington’s Markieff Morris injured his left ankle when he made a jump shot but landed on Horford’s foot. He stayed in the game to make a free throw but the Wizards fouled immediately so they could remove Morris and send him to the locker room.

— AFP

NBA: Thon Maker treated himself to a little block party in the first half against the Raptors.

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