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Utah Jazz seek momentum with Kawhi Leonard out for Los Angeles Clippers in pivotal Game 5

Coverage of the NBA Playoffs continues on Wednesday night as the Los Angeles Clippers return to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz; originally 2-0 down, Kawhi Leonard had helped the Clippers claw it back to 2-2 in the series; join us live from 3am on Sky Sports Main Event & Arena

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers walks off the court as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the LA Clippers 105-100 during game five of the Western Conference First Round NBA Playoff basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Kawhi Leonard could be done for the series and is out for Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals with a right knee sprain, according to the Los Angeles Clippers.

There is no timetable yet for their star player's return.

That poses significant challenges for the Los Angeles Clippers, and could be a convincing edge for the Utah Jazz with momentum up for grabs in a pivotal Game 5 on Wednesday night.

Rudy Gobert believes Utah's problems, which led to two straight blowout losses to the Clippers in Los Angeles, centre around the offense.

"When we take tough shots, it's hard to get back and set our defense," Gobert said. "We commit fouls, we give up layups, we give up threes. It's a cycle - when we play the right way offensively, we play better defensively."

NBA PLAYER OF THE DAY LEONARD 2:08
Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points and 12 rebounds in the Los Angeles Clippers' victory against the Utah Jazz

Donovan Mitchell acknowledges the offensive struggles, but also pointed at Utah's defensive woes.

"They were just at a different level, but we couldn't buy a bucket," he said. "And we just didn't guard. We've got to keep guarding."

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In all likelihood, the Jazz will need to improve on both sides of the court if they hope to snap a two-game skid and regain an advantage in a series tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.

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Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combine for 65 points as the Clippers take game 3 away from the Jazz

The Clippers' stars awakened in the past two games - Leonard and Paul George each scored at least 30 points in Games 3 and 4 victories - while the suffocating defense and smoking offense that helped the Jazz jump out to a 2-0 series start looked rather pedestrian at Staples Center.

"Myself and Kawhi got full trust in each other," George said. "It's opportunities for us to score when we get switches, but then there's opportunities to allow our team-mates to be aggressive and make plays for them when we can attack our mismatches. I think it's just a healthy mix."

They were very healthy on Monday, with George and Leonard each scoring 31 points in a 118-104 win.

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Highlights of the fourth game in the Western Conference semi-final series between LA Clippers and Utah Jazz

George faces the possibility of needing another wing man to emerge on Wednesday night at Utah.

"These guys understand that we need them to be the head of the snake and be super aggressive," Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr said. "Those guys are our leaders. We go as they go and they understand that. Guys have just been picking up the slack behind them."

The Jazz, meanwhile, continue to hope for the series debut of All-Star point guard Mike Conley and for the return of their all-around stellar play, which helped them earn the No 1 seed for the playoffs. Coming home to 18,300 exuberant fans should help.

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The Inside the NBA team take a keen look at the upcoming Game 5's between the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers plus the LA Clippers and Utah Jazz

Aside from the 0-for-21 stretch the Jazz endured in their Game 1 come-from-behind win, things couldn't get much worse than they did in the first half on Monday night. The Clippers used a 10-0 run after Utah scored the first basket and increased that lead to 51-22 before Utah snapped out of their funk and made the game somewhat more competitive.

"We gotta stay connected, stay together," Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic said. "They won two games at home. Now we have to protect our home court."

Live NBA Playoffs 25: LA Clippers @ Utah Gm5 16.06 2700

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue wants more of what his players brought, especially defensively, when they return to Utah. LA's zone defense and smaller lineups have been particularly effective.

"I thought it was our defense where we set the tone," Lue said of the Game 4 win. "We were able to get out in transition."

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