Jazz Lose Rudy Gobert, Beat Clippers Anyway on Joe Johnson Buzzer-Beater

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers finished the 2016-17 regular season with identical 51-win records.

Through 47 minutes and 59 seconds of their series-opening playoff matchup on Saturday, they both scored 95 points. Then one of the game's more experienced big-shot takers broke the tie.

With time running out, a screen from Jazz wing Joe Ingles put the Clips' slight Jamal Crawford on Joe Johnson, who went to work before rattling home the game-winner for Utah.

The game-decider from Game 1 was Iso Joe's eighth game-winning buzzer-beater in the last 10 years, the most in that span and twice as many as the next-best guy.

"In those moments of the game, guys are not going to help," Johnson said after the 97-95 victory, Utah's first playoff win since 2010. "It's kind of like you're on an island by yourself and they expect for you to get that stop. Nobody wants their man to score, so I just try to be patient, get to a sweet spot, and make the right play."

On the first play of the game, the Jazz lost potential Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to a knee injury. But Derrick Favors slid up a spot for much of the game at center and Utah was able to steal the first game of the series on the road.

"I think we felt and knew that a lot of people probably were counting us out when [Gobert] went down," said Johnson, who scored a team-high 21 points. "But man, we stuck together, fought hard for 48 minutes, we had ups and downs, but at the end of the day we came out with a win."

Hours after the final buzzer sounded, an MRI revealed there was no structural damage to Gobert's knee, but that he'd suffered hyperextension and a bone bruise. There's no timetable yet for his return, but it looks like he could return to the series.

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