With the series knotted at two, the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers came into Game 5 with plenty on the line. Game 5’s are very crucial since the winner of that game wins the series 82 percent of the time. Injuries have been the theme of this series, but the Jazz were essentially healthy coming in, while the Clippers were once again without Blake Griffin. However, Austin Rivers made his return tonight.

First quarter

Right from the first quarter, the pace was a slow, and it was a grind-out type of game, which favored the Jazz. Utah loves playing slow to set up their offense in the half-court sets, whereas the Clippers favor a faster pace, with a lot of transition scoring.

The first period ended with a 21-19 Clippers lead.

Utah takes control in second quarter

The game changed in the second period, as Utah’s offense opened up, with them shooting 52 percent in the quarter. Gordon Hayward had 14 points and three rebounds by halftime to pace his team to a three-point lead. Rudy Gobert also filled up the stat sheet, putting up eight points, five rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.

The offensively challenge third period

Both teams came out of the locker room ice cold from the field. For about nearly three minutes of the third quarter both teams didn’t make a basket, being stuck at a score of 55-52. However, it was the Jazz who were able to close out the quarter effectively, extending to a 64-58 lead.

A game of runs in the fourth

The Jazz took more control of the game in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Behind terrific ball movement and offensive execution, Utah opened up an 11-point lead. But, J.J. Redick and Chris Paul ignited an 11-0 run to bring the Clippers back. However, the Jazz quickly responded with a 7-0 spurt of their own.

Every time the Clippers closed the gap, the Jazz had huge responses behind the clutch play of Joe Johnson and Hayward.

Ultimately, Johnson hit a two-point dagger with 19 seconds left on the clock to seal the deal. The Jazz knocked down crucial free throws down the stretch and closed out the game with a 96-92 victory to take a 3-2 series lead heading back home to Utah.

As mentioned in the preview of this contest, the pace of the game was important, and the final score should indicate that it favored the Jazz. It was a slow, defensive game where Utah held Los Angeles to 42 percent shooting. The Jazz, who have been rebounding much better since Gobert’s return, out-rebounded the Clippers again, 43-34.

Gordon Hayward finished with 27 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals, while Rudy Gobert notched a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds to go along with five steals and two blocks. Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson were enormous off the bench, scoring 16 and 14 points, respectively.

Chris Paul led the way for L.A., putting in 28 points, nine assists, and four rebounds, but his effort wasn’t enough.

J.J. Redick, who had been quiet for most of the series, had his best game with 26 points, and DeAndre Jordan put up 14 points and 12 rebounds.

The Jazz are in the driver’s seat now, heading back to Salt Lake with the momentum and series lead. They have an excellent chance of closing out in front of their loud home crowd. Game 6 is scheduled for Friday, April 28.