Al Jefferson committed the foul that allowed the Clippers to go ahead with 3.4 seconds remaining. Randy Foye missed the shot that would have won the game.
But one day after the Jazz blew a 19-point lead and lost 116-114, the toughest questions were directed at Tyrone Corbin.
The Jazz coach's decision to leave Jefferson in the game for a defensive possession with 17 seconds left proved costly, and was questionable at the time with athletic backup Derrick Favors, a more sound defender, on the bench.
Corbin said he was anticipating the Jazz's next offensive possession. As a result, Jefferson jumped out to trap Clippers point guard Chris Paul near midcourt. Paul turned the corner on Jefferson and with 3.4 seconds remaining, Jefferson couldn't resist, and was called for a foul when he reached in and collided with Paul.
"Al was going to be the guy we were going to on the offensive end," Corbin said. "So we were coming back to go inside. You manage your timeouts to the time and space in the game, whether you have enough time to call a timeout to get the guy back in."
However, with the shot clock off, the Clippers' strategy was to hold for the final shot before Jefferson's foul. The Jazz had one timeout left and would have been able to stop the clock and reinsert Jefferson for an offensive possession.
Instead, Favors remained on the bench with five fouls. Corbin said he did not leave Favors on the bench in anticipation of needing him for overtime.
Favors smiled when asked if he wanted to be in the game during that sequence. He answered carefully.
"I always like being in the game in crunch time," said Favors, who played 19 minutes. "I was in foul trouble so I came out, but I always like to be in the game going into crunch time."
Corbin doesn't often practice the "offense-defense" strategy of late-game substitutions, but said Saturday he is not fundamentally opposed to it.
"You have to make sure it's going to be a timeout to get the guy back offensively or you have a timeout to call to get him back on the floor," he said. "I'm not opposed to it, it just has to be the right situation."
Play it again
The Jazz are one of the few teams in the NBA who have played the Clippers well more than once this year. They have lost two games by a combined three points.
But in both games, the marquee matchup has been between Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap. One is long and aerobatic; the other, Millsap, is generally more ground-bound.
The two will face off once again Sunday when the Jazz play the Clippers at Staples Center.
Millsap said Griffin has begun trying to play mind games with him, the way he did with Griffin in his first couple of seasons.
"He's getting wiser and a little bit older and kind of knows what to expect from me," Millsap said, laughing. "So I think he's trying to role reverse, I guess."
While Griffin is the more decorated of the two a two-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year Millsap said he's not that difficult to figure out.
"He's still a little raw on the offensive end," Millsap said. "You kind of know what type of moves he's going to do if he gets the ball on the block, but it's still tough to try to stop it because he's so strong and explosive."
Jazz at Clippers
O At Staples Center
Tipoff • 7:30 p.m.
TV • ROOT
Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
Records • Utah 15-16; L.A. 24-6
Season series • L.A. 2-0
About the Jazz • Randy Foye has averaged 23.5 points in two games against his former team this season. ... The Jazz have lost six of their last eight games. ... Mo Williams is expected to miss his fourth game with a sprained right thumb.
About the Clippers • They have won 16 straight. ... Blake Griffin leads the Clippers with 18.2 points and 8.9 rebounds. ... During their winning streak, the Clippers have allowed more than 100 points just twice, both times to Utah.