But for much of the night, a double-digit lead seemed tenuous and laced with trepidation.
The Utah Jazz have issued a single-game ticket fraud alert for Round 1, Home Game 1 and Home Game 2 of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Chris Paul was important in establishing and maintaining this lead. It's well-documented that they have never advanced past the second-round of the playoffs in the Chris Paul-Blake Griffin era, and Doc Rivers hasn't done anything to erase his tag of being overrated. Paul finished with 21 points and 10 assists. Chicago held a 43-38 rebounding edge for the game.
And yet a subtle issue developing in the West's 4-5 matchup is that "small ball" is a moniker ill-fitted for what the Jazz have been forced to employ.
In Boston, Chicago shockingly won the first two games of an East series.
That it took the Clippers until Game 2 to figure out how to capitalize on Gobert's absence was the only surprise.
"It was big", Griffin said. "It was a point of emphasis". I thought tonight what made the difference is defensively.
"The play was for DeMar to get a bucket", Lowry said.
With Joe Johnson the smallest Utah wing at 6-foot-7, length and size have been smothering LA's 3-point shooting, a huge key to its offense.
"I've been in the trenches with him before and he's always bounced back", Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "We were not helping off [Redick and Crawford]".
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"Under the circumstances, I think he's in a good place (mentally) and his focus is on trying to get back as quickly as he can", Snyder said.
I hate to - like we're doing a great job on Redick and Crawford.
According to Utah Jazz's official update on Gobert's injury posted through NBA.com, the downed player was immediately examined by the team's medical staff on standby at the STAPLES Center during the game. I think there's an awareness that our guys have. He got in foul trouble early, and we weathered that storm as a team. They're going to be loud.
Can they carry this momentum into Game 2? It led to a win, but it was the smallest margin of victory over the Jazz out of the four wins this season.
Westbrook ended a scoring drought of nearly 3 1/2 minutes for the Thunder with a layup, but Houston used an 8-2 spurt - highlighted by a 3 from Eric Gordon - to push the lead to 81-68 with just more than three minutes remaining in the third.
And as Hayward pointed out, the Clippers will need to be better after the energy of the opening tip-off fades.
You know your defense is not putting up enough resistance when the ancient Paul Pierce is able to take the ball at the free-throw line and drive down the left side uncontested for an easy layup as he did late in the third quarter.
Deep down, the Jazz must also ask themselves if they're as desperate as the Clippers.
Oklahoma City will remain in Houston for two days of practice before Game 2 on Wednesday night at the Toyota Center. The difference was that dominant first quarter (29-18). "We definitely have to be better in the first quarter, but besides the first quarter we played them pretty even".