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“I know what I can do” |  Jordan Clarkson rises to the occasion

After Saturday’s thrilling win for the Utah Jazz, many of the headlines were mostly about Bojan Bogdanovic’s defense and Utah’s ability to pull together in the end — and for good reason.

Bogdanovic’s defense was superb, completely changing the outlook for the series as it was instrumental in the Jazz’s victory. Using his size and physicality to pressure Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson, Dallas couldn’t get into a rhythm for much of the game.

Plus, Utah accomplished something only three other playoff teams have done in the last decade. With excellent execution on offense and physicality on defense, the Jazz overcame a four-point deficit with less than 40 seconds left.

But lost among the thrill of victory was a storyline that was instrumental in Utah’s Game 4 win – a storyline about a player rising to the occasion and picking up his teammates as they needed it the most.

It’s no surprise that when the lights were brightest and the Jazz needed someone to pick up the slack, Jordan Clarkson was that man. The reigning sixth man of the year, Clarkson is a player who offers instant attack off the bench – but on Saturday night he was more than just putting the ball in the hoop.

“I’m just doing what I have to do to help us win. … I just wanted to be aggressive and try to find a rhythm early on,” Clarkson said. “However, Bogey started it all. His energy, just taking the whole pitch and seeing that from him, that definitely gave us energy. It kept us going and helped us so much.”

The potential dilemma facing the Jazz was that with Bogdanovic expending so much energy defensively, it would have been difficult for him to replicate the 25 points per game he averaged on Saturday.

Don’t get me wrong, Utah needed every point against Dallas’ vaunted defense — and that’s why Clarkson’s performance was so sensational. He finished with a team-high 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor, including an effective 3-of-5 from three-point territory. He added four rebounds and finished with a +18 rating in 36 minutes.

When asked after the game when he knew he would have a prolific game shooting the ball, the still confident Clarkson started to laugh before giving his answer.

“When I walked into the gym. … I’m still the same guy just trying to win a game,” he said. “I just stay in the moment and do what I can to help.”

He gave Utah a lift and frustrated Dallas with a slew of moves inside and outside the arc. His ability to break through any defender and reach the paint was dominant, allowing the Jazz to be on pace when the ball was kicked out to open shooters.

“He’s locked in on both sides,” Mitchell said of Clarkson. “The way he finished tonight’s game, he does everything. He gets his shots right, but he’s also able to get in the paint and create and find guys. … He’s a guy who comes forward every time.”

Clarkson is averaging 17.5 points on 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc, emerging as a legit offensive threat that brings the Jazz to life when he turns to his bench.

As Utah finds the recipe for success with Bogdanovic emerging as a nagging defenseman against the Mavericks, others will need to step up the score — and Clarkson is always ready to fire.

“Nothing will change who I am or how I play. … I’m always going to have fun playing and trying to score,” he said. “I know what I can do, and I will be ready. We will be ready.”



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