Shorthanded Clippers face Jazz team that is back at full strength for Game 5 – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES – The shorthanded Clippers will face a Utah Jazz team that is back to full strength tonight at Staples Center in Game 5 of their best-of-7 first-round playoff series.

All-Star forward Gordon Hayward will return to Utah’s lineup after leaving the Jazz’s Game 4 Game 4 victory early because of food poisoning on Sunday night in Salt Lake City.

“I was definitely down for the count,” Hayward said Tuesday morning, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. “Haven’t been sick like that in years, maybe at all. So it was rough, but I’m happy that we got the win. I was really proud of the guys.”

The series is knotted at two wins each, with the series shifting back to Utah for Game 6 on Friday.

The return of Hayward is bad news for the Clippers, who are without forward Blake Griffin for the rest of the season.

“It goes without saying that he obviously has been our best player this year, best offensive player,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “It’s good to have him back after the other night.”

Hayward, who scored a career-high 40 points in Game 3, rejoins a Jazz lineup that once again boasts star center Rudy Gobert. Gobert took the court in Game 4 for the first time since suffering a knee injury in the first minute of Game 1 at Staples Center.

Gobert finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in Utah’s 105-98 victory.

Hayward said both he and his wife, Robyn, got food poisoning after eating “a sandwich from a place.” A first-time All-Star this season, Hayward left Game 4 after playing just nine minutes.

The Clippers will play their second game without Griffin, who suffered an injury to his right toe in the first half of Game 3. The free agent-to-be averaged 25 points in Games 1 and 2.

While there is no replacing Griffin, guard Austin Rivers will be available for the Clippers for the first time since March 29, when he suffered a strained left hamstring.

Rivers averaged 12 points per game during the regular season.

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