NBA News Wire
Clippers coast past Jazz
LOS ANGELES — A third-quarter spark allowed the Los Angeles Clippers to coast past the Utah Jazz.
Guard Jamal Crawford scored 17 of his 27 points in the second half and forward Blake Griffin added 25 points and 11 rebounds as the Clippers rolled to a 102-87 victory over the Jazz on Saturday night before an announced crowd of 19,060 at Staples Center.
The Pacific Division-leading Clippers (34-16) won for the fifth time in their last six games. Utah (16-31) lost for the second time in as many nights and dropped its fourth in the past six outings. The Jazz fell to the Golden State Warriors 95-90 on Friday night at Utah.
Defense allowed the Clippers to break up a close contest and pull away in the second half.
“We got some stops. We had good ball pressure defensively, forced them to take some tough shots, got into the open court and hit shots,” said Griffin, who scored 14 of his points in the first half. “When everybody is on the same page, like we were there in the third quarter, we’re a much better team.”
Center DeAndre Jordan grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked three shots and chipped in 10 points for the Clippers. Los Angeles point guard Darren Collison had 11 points and six assists.
“I thought in the first half we didn’t feel like we shot the ball well, but we were shooting like 50 percent,” Jordan said. “But our defense kept the game close. The second half we got our legs back and we got a better feel for the game.”
Center Enes Kanter paced the Jazz with 23 points and 14 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end. Forward Richard Jefferson finished with 19 points and guard Gordon Hayward had 15 despite 3-of-13 shooting from the floor.
The Jazz played without forward Derrick Favors, who missed his second straight game with an inflamed right hip. They also played without forward Jeremy Evans, who did not make the trip after suffering a hard fall in Friday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors. Without Favors and Evans, the Clippers pounded Utah inside for a 54-30 advantage on points in the paint.
“Derrick’s a real protector. He’s a shot-blocker for us,” Corbin said. “He’s a physical specimen also, so he can take the banging and bumping inside and get the big guys off and finish with blocked shots. We need all our pieces. When we have a guy out, we need to step up.”
Los Angeles stepped up with a third-quarter spurt as it improved to 20-3 at home. The Clippers also stretched their winning streak over Utah to eight in a row.
“Good win for us,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought it was a hard game. You could see it early. We just couldn’t get going, and I thought our defense tonight was terrific and kept us in the first half. The second half I thought it won it for us.”
The lead changed hands nine times in a sluggish first half as the two clubs creeped to the break tied at 42. Utah managed to shoot just 41 percent from the floor (16 of 39) compared with 51.5 percent (17 of 33) for the Clippers, but the Jazz converted six 3-pointers and Los Angeles failed to hit any. The Clippers also missed nine of their 17 free throws.
Overall, the Clippers shot 51.4 percent from the field (38 of 74) to 35.8 percent (29 of 81) for the Jazz.
Utah led 58-55 midway through the third quarter when the Clippers went on 16-2 run after a dunk by Jordan gave them a 71-60 lead with 1:22 left. Two field goals by Kanter in the final seven minutes of the quarter were the only baskets for the Jazz as the Clippers took a 76-65 heading into the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Coach Doc Rivers is concerned about fatigue hindering the Clippers’ play. The club played eight of nine games on the road and 10 overall in 15 days entering Saturday. The Clippers visit the Denver Nuggets on Monday before hosting the Miami Heat on Wednesday. … The Jazz host the Toronto Raptors on Monday. … This was the second of three meetings between the two clubs. The Clippers won the initial encounter 98-90 at Staples on Dec. 28 when F Blake Griffin went for 40 points and 10 rebounds. Los Angeles visits Utah on March 14.
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