Joe Johnson stuns Clippers at buzzer as Jazz win without Rudy Gobert

On Saturday night, Gobert left the game just seconds into his playoff debut.

"The 7'1" French center did not return to the game and was taken to a nearby hospital for further testing.

But Iso Joe wasn't the only hero for Utah. Did fatigue factor in when it mattered most?

When Gobert crumpled to the ground moments after winning the opening tip, his left knee having collided with the knee of Luc Mbah a Moute, it seemed a game and a playoffs series had changed. "You can't account for that stuff".

Despite being at different ends of the contention cycle, these two teams have a lot more in common than you might think at first glance. The most minor knee sprains require more than a week of recovery time, meaning that even if Gobert is on a Jazz-friendly recovery track, the series could be over by the time he's healthy.

With Johnson dialed in, the Jazz managed to stay the course, operating with a level of crispness and intelligence that allowed the Jazz to always be in the game despite Gobert's absence. He was immediately taken back into the locker room, where he remained as the game played on.

"We're not sure what the situation is with Rudy yet", he said. ". In theory, we're not the hunted. We have to be better". There's really no pressure. "And obviously we want to try to be a little greedy - but it will be tough". The team built there was just too good for humble expectations. "We understand how important every single game is on that journey". The lineup that played for much of the first half hardly saw any shared court time during the season. It was the eighth time in the last decade that Johnson had beaten the buzzer to win the game.

"Last year's over", KD said Saturday.

"We've got to be better", Paul said.

"No playoff series truly begins until the road team wins a game".

When asked by ESPN's J.A. Adande about Gobert's availability going forward, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said: "We don't know". The preparation that we had going in, he talked about visualizing yourself out there. Besides, the NBA Postseason is supposed to be for the league's best players, and Gobert is definitely one of the league's best players. "You can't just say it's one game and show up the next day".

Johnson, who scored 21 points, was left isolated against Jamal Crawford on the final play. In the back court, Gordon came toward him for the ball and Joe kept the possession.

The Blazers would prefer to forget that 135-90 debacle of a defeat at Oracle on December 17 - the largest Warriors' margin of victory in the rivalry.

The series pegged as the most competitive matchup of the first round was dealt a serious blow after just 11 seconds.

"It's the playoffs", Redick said. L.A. has been elminated in the first or second round each of the last five years. "It's a new year".

  • Julie Sanders