Streaking Jazz cruise past Clippers
LOS ANGELES — In a battle of depleted rosters, the Utah Jazz were able to take advantage of the situation in a 126-106 victory Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Missing four players, including starting center Rudy Gobert for the ninth game, the Jazz have been afforded some time to switch to a more up-tempo style, and Utah used it to turn a close game into an eventual rout.
Reserve guard Alec Burks scored 28 points, and Donovan Mitchell added 24 as the Jazz moved their win streak to four games. Utah (11-11) improved to 2-7 away from home this year, with the other victory coming at Orlando on Nov. 18.
“We’re playing with pace and tempo and making great reads in the seams,” Burks said. “It’s good to play at a face pace.”
It was only the fourth time the Jazz defeated the Clippers in the past 23 meetings. Los Angeles owned an 81-74 lead in the third quarter, but Utah had a 20-13 advantage the remainder of the period and never looked back.
“You have to give those guys credit, they came out, made a lot of hustle plays and got to a lot of loose balls before we did,” said the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, who grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds with eight points. “They were able to convert and hit a lot of 3-point shots so that was a big factor in tonight’s game, but we have to keep paying (hard).”
The Jazz were 17-of-35 from 3-point range, while the Clippers went 10-of-29 from distance.
Austin Rivers scored a season-high 25 points for the short-handed Clippers, who saw their three-game win streak come to an end. Lou Williams scored 20 points for Los Angeles, while Montrezl Harrell added 13.
The Clippers (8-12) were without four of their five starters from opening night: forwards Blake Griffin (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (hip), and guards Patrick Beverley (knee) and Milos Teodosic (foot). Griffin was out of action for the first time this season.
The Jazz were dealing with their own injuries, playing without Gobert (leg), Joe Johnson (wrist), Dante Exum (shoulder) and Rudy Hood (ankle). Without the 7-foot-1 Gobert, the new up-tempo identity has been both a possibility and a necessity.
But it wasn’t just offense that helped the Jazz distance itself from the Clippers in the second half. Utah also tightened the screws on defense following a timeout midway through the third quarter and the complexion of the game changed.
The Clippers scored only 46 points in the second half and 20 in the final quarter. Rivers was held scoreless over the final period as Utah’s defense was altered to shut down the Clippers’ guard.
“They started trapping and it is what it is; we have to figure it out,” Rivers said. “We have guys who are going to step up. I wouldn’t way (we’re) concerned but sometimes you just have to figure out ways to step up.”
In the Jazz, the Clippers now have a model on how to do it.
“We came out in the second half and played with a lot more energy than we did in the first half, especially on defense,” said Jazz center Derrick Favors, who scored 12 points with 12 rebounds. “Guys came in off the bench and were very active. (Burks) came in and played extremely well. (Mitchell) played well. It was a team win for us.”
Thabo Sefolosha and Ricky Rubio each scored 15 points for the Jazz, while Jonas Jerebko added 14.
The Clippers know that Griffin will be out for at least six weeks and probably eight with the sprained knee he suffered in Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. They might ultimately add more tempo to their game just as the Jazz did, but Thursday they were not ready for the pace.
“Lou and Austin were gassed a little bit and it’s tough when they had the ball the entire time,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought we had good movement in the first half and I loved how we played offensively, but defensively we struggled.”
NOTES: Clippers F Danilo Gallinari, who has missed the past 11 games with a hip strain, is another 3-to-4 games away from returning, according to coach Doc Rivers. ... Injuries necessitated that Clippers F/C Montrezl Harrell make his first start of the season. Harrell has not played in six games this season (coach’s decision). ... With his 24 points Thursday, Jazz G Donovan Mitchell has now scored in double figures in 10 of the past 11 games. ... Jazz F Joe Ingles made three 3-pointers against the Clippers. He has hit at least three 3-pointers 11 times this season.