Rudy Gobert hoping to play again in first-round series

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill).

Playoff scheduling makes it more feasible that Gobert could return at some point in the series.

Joe Johnson drained the game-winning shot at the buzzer and the Utah Jazz shocked the Los Angeles Clippers, 97-95, in Game 1 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on Saturday night.

The man in question was Joe Marcus Johnson, professional scorer, manufacturer of point, and the National Basketball Association player who has drained more buzzer-beaters than any other over the last decade. Paul nearly carried the Clippers into overtime by scoring 20 of his 25 points in the second half, but Johnson topped Paul's tying shot. They beat a team that was "18-2" against them in the last 20 games (read my post on that foolishness, though). A video review confirmed it was good.

Johnson is known for making big shots in the clutch. Remember, Rudy Gobert had been the most durable player on the Jazz roster this regular season, only missing one game all regular season, so we have little statistical evidence on how this year's roster will fare outside of the Game 1 result. We know this is a different season, a different team, just a different year.

Johnson was 9-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three-point range on the night, as the veteran led Utah to an improbable win after star center Rudy Gobert went out with a knee sprain in the first minute of the game.

George scored 29 points and Lance Stephenson had 16 for the seventh-seeded Pacers, who will try to even the series Monday. Against a stout Utah defense, that could be a useful skill should points become hard to come by. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul combined for 51 in a losing effort. The ball was given to Chris Paul who tied it at 95-95 following his quick runner off the glass.

The Jazz didn't call a timeout.

"We fought till the end of the year to get it", said coach Doc Rivers. With Utah's leader in minutes played, blocks, and rebounds out, one would think the Clippers big men would have owned it under the basket. Everyone knows the stats that the team that wins the first game of a postseason series usually goes on to win the series. If Gobert can get out onto the court, the Jazz are all of a sudden favorites to win the series, but if he doesn't, their lack of interior defense might prove too much to overcome, despite the early 1-0 series lead. This came after a previous attempt to get back on the floor didn't go so well. Utah allowed Blake Griffin to score 26 points without their defensive anchor and got out rebounded 40-34.

  • Julie Sanders