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Utah Jazz: George Hill got it done against Chris Paul in Game 1; Jazz need repeat performance in Game 2

Published April 18, 2017 5:09 pm

Key • Jazz guard made Paul work for everything in opener.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Los Angeles • The Jazz are expecting a different Los Angeles Clippers team on Tuesday night. More importantly, the Jazz are expecting a different Chris Paul.

Paul wasn't exactly passive in Saturday's Game 1. After all, the future Hall of Fame point guard scored 25 points, handed out 11 assists, grabbed seven rebounds and carried his team offensively in the fourth quarter.

But in the Jazz's Game 1 win over the Clippers, Paul wasn't exactly aggressive offensively, either. He picked his spots, but he didn't hunt for his offense. Paul scored just five points and took just four shots in Saturday's first half, preferring to get his teammates involved.

The Jazz expect that to change going forward, which puts more strain on starting point guard George Hill to be sharp on both ends.

"You know they're going to be aggressive all game, and we're going to have to be smarter and be ready for that," Hill said. "We're expecting them to come out and play very hard. We just have to be smart about it and be aggressive right back."

Paul was indeed very good down the stretch of Game 1. In the fourth quarter, he proved to be difficult to stop. He made a running bank shot in the lane with 13 seconds remaining to tie the score at 95-95. He controlled things on the Clippers' end for 37 minutes.

But Hill was almost as good. His defense forced Paul — one of the most efficient shooters the NBA has seen in this generation — into 19 shots to attain his 25 points. Hill was disruptive defensively, not only guarding Paul, but doubling and helping down on Blake Griffin when the All-Star power forward tried to post up smaller Jazz players.

And Hill was good offensively, scoring 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field. His circus shot 3-pointer in the fourth quarter gave the Jazz an 82-74 lead. He ran Utah's offense with aplomb, and forced Paul to expend energy on the defensive end.

Simply, Hill did in Game 1 exactly what was needed against Paul for the Jazz to win the series. Paul got his numbers, but Hill was good enough to give him significant pause.

"This is the same way George has been all year," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "You all know how I feel about Chris. He's the best pure point guard in the league and one of the best of all time. Even though I'm older than him, it feels like I've been watching him since I was a kid. That's what George is up against. We have to have someone conscious of where Chris is at all times, and that's what we need from George."

Historically, Paul becomes more aggressive when his team needs it the most.

Last season, CP3 averaged 23.8 points per game in a first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, a series the Clippers lost largely because Paul injured his hand midway through.

Two years ago, he dropped an average of 22.8 points in 12 postseason games, and did so shooting 50 percent from the field.

In both years, those scoring outputs exceeded his regular season totals.

That means, the Jazz are going to have to withstand a significant offensive punch from Paul in Tuesday's Game 2 and beyond. That also means, Hill's importance as the series progresses will only increase.

"We expect their whole team to come out aggressive," Utah forward Derrick Favors said. "We're sure they're feeling some type of way after Saturday. So we know Chris Paul is going to be aggressive. Same thing for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. So we're going to have to come out and be ready for that."


Twitter: @tribjazz






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