POSTGAME REPORT: CLIPPERS 105, JAZZ 104 - 12/3/12
SALT LAKE CITY – That’s why MVP candidate Chris Paul loves “winning time.”
Paul, in the hostile atmosphere of Energy Solutions Arena, dropped in two layups in the final 1:34 to lead the Clippers in a comeback win over the Utah Jazz, 105-104, on Monday, snapping a three-game road losing streak.
Paul’s clutch effort did not come without help. DeAndre Jordan rejected a runner by Al Jefferson with 26.9 seconds to go and the Clippers up by two and Matt Barnes converted a pair of free throws on the other end out of a timeout. Jamal Crawford knocked down a long 2-point jumper falling out of bounds to cut Utah’s lead to one earlier in the quarter, Lamar Odom had half a dozen plays down the stretch including two offensive rebounds, and Chauncey Billups made 2-of-3 free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Mo Williams.
And, of course, there was All-Star forward Blake Griffin, who scored a season-high 30 points.
The Clippers (11-6) won their third in a row and sent the Jazz (9-10) to their first loss at Energy Solutions Arena in seven games this season, despite allowing the Jazz to grab a 14-point lead in the second half and shoot 56.2% for the game.
“I didn’t like our approach in the first half, but I was very pleased with how we responded in the second,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said.
Paul finished with 14 points, including six in the fourth quarter, and nine assists.
The Jazz played without starting small forward Marvin Williams (concussion symptoms) and key reserve Derrick Favors (plantar fasciitis).
Lamar Odom. In his second consecutive run of extended playing time in the fourth quarter, Odom stuck to his recent mantra of “slowly but surely” and changed the tenor of the game. He finished with a seven points, including a driving layup and a 3-point play, took a charge, blocked a shot, made a steal, and secured four rebounds.
“He was active; had a couple of shots, rebounds, spaces the floor for us a little bit and he’s just starting to get his timing back and it’s going to take some time,” Del Negro said. “But he’s a weapon out there for us and will only get better with time.”
Jordan’s block. After Paul converted his second layup in the fourth, a gliding shot with his right hand over Paul Millsap with 26.4 seconds to go, the Jazz had a chance to tie it on the next possession. The Clippers overloaded the play on the right side and Millsap dumped it off to Jefferson at the free throw line. Utah’s center tried to quick shot Jordan with a floater, but Jordan, who said he leaped after the ball was out of Jefferson’s hand, swatted it away and Billups snared it near the right sideline.
“That was the play of the game,” Paul said. “I watched it happen. We tried to keep the ball on the [right] side of the court and they hit [Jefferson] and [Jordan] had to cover a lot of ground to block that shot.”
Griffin. He made plays at the rim, including a dunk on the break and a big alley-oop from Paul late, but Griffin’s most impressive shot came on a step-back jumper to cut Utah’s lead to 96-95 late in the fourth quarter. Griffin finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds.
Crawford. The leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year tallied his eighth game with 20 points or more, and despite missing a pair of open shots in the fourth quarter, found a way to knock down two jumpers from opposite corners that helped turn the tide.
“It’s weird because you have three of them where you’re wide open and nobody’s by you and then you make the toughest one,” said Crawford, who had 20 points on 7-of-19 shooting and three assists. “But you’ve got to have confidence. My teammates and coaching staff told me, ‘Keep shooting. All the shots you’re getting are good shots. We see you working on it every day, so keep shooting it.’”
Mo Williams and Randy Foye. The one-time Clippers played 36:57 minutes apiece and nearly had a hand in taking down their former team. Foye made a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds to go to make it 105-104 and stole the ensuing inbounds pass. His heave at the buzzer was wide left and was incidentally waved off. Foye finished with 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting (3-for-7 from 3-point range). In a bizarre synchronicity, Williams also shot 7-for-11 and 3-for-7 from distance. He managed a team-high 20 points and 12 assists.
Hot: Griffin. He was efficient and effective against Millsap, going 14-for-20 in the game and 7-for-9 in the first half. His only two misses in the opening 24 minutes came from long range as the shot clock was expiring. The first, a shot from 20 feet while he was sitting on his backside after sliding to the floor and the second, a 3-pointer from the right corner as the shot-clock buzzer.
“Getting to the rim and getting single coverage in the post, that was really it, just taking advantage of that,” Griffin said. “Once you face up and you can attack your man. And my teammates did a great job moving and keeping things going to keep the defense occupied.”
Not: Rebounding. The numbers balanced out with the Clippers losing the rebounding edge by just five (41-36), but in the first half the problem Del Negro has discussed throughout the opening portion of the season reared its head. The Jazz out-rebounded L.A. 21-10 and at one point had Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap out-rebounding the entire Clippers team.
Crawford: "This one that can honestly catapult you. It’s a mental test. We’re in here playing Utah, who hasn’t lost at home, backs against the wall most of the game, down double-digits in the fourth quarter, we could easily fold, but we found the perseverance and strength to keep going.”
Odom: “The concentration level and how we approached the game. I think mentally our focus, we were in a real good space and that helped propel us.”
Griffin: “We have to give [the bench] more of a cushion and more help. Defensively, I think we are a little slow moving at times. We’ve got to figure it out. Some games we’re okay, but others not.”
Paul: “That’s the gift and the curse with our team, we know we’re talented enough we’re always in every game, but we’ve got to start off better. We can’t come out so lackadaisical.”
Notes: Crawford set the L.A. Clippers record for consecutive free throws made with 48 after going 4-for-4 against the Jazz. The record was previously held by Mark Jackson, who made 44 in a row from Feb. 28 to March 27, 1993… The Jazz hammered the Clippers inside in the opening half, scoring 36 of their 58 first-half points in the paint… The Clippers bench outscored the Jazz, 44-31… It is the first time in franchise history since 1985-86 the team has allowed 56.0% shooting or better in a road game and won. They lost the previous 95 times.