The Clippers hit the road on Monday night for a brief stop in Utah before returning to Los Angeles for three more games at Staples Center to close out the week. They enter Utah riding a three-game losing streak on the road.
Historically, Utah has not been very kind to the Clippers (10-6) as they hold an 18-61 lifetime record against the Jazz (9-9) in Salt Lake City. The Jazz are undefeated at home this season, winning their six games at EnergySolutions Arena by an average of 10.8 points per game.
“They are tough to play at home,” Clippers power forward Blake Griffin said. “Their fans kind of back them up. They do a good job. They run their stuff and it is a tough place to play but not impossible.”
While most other arenas tend to have a few supporters for the visiting team peppered throughout the stands, Clippers point guard Chris Paul expects no such luxury when visiting EnergySolutions Arena, traditionally one of the more hostile environments in the NBA.
“Utah is one of those unique cities where; you know if we play in Atlanta or in Charlotte, [Washington] D.C. or a lot of other cities you may get a couple of cheers around the country,” Paul said. “The road team, when they announce my name, there may be a few fans there who are going to cheer for me, Blake, guys that have been around the league a little bit. In Utah; no. Everybody is for the home team. They support their team for 48 minutes. It’s always going to be tough. They are going to play one way and it’s going to be a hard fought game, that’s what you’re going to get in Utah.”
The Clippers beat the Jazz, 107-105, on the road last season, breaking a streak of 16 consecutive losses in Utah.
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LAST TIME OUT
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Clippers 116, Kings 81: The Clippers jumped on the Kings early as they built a 24-point lead by halftime. Seven players scored in double figures, led by Jamal Crawford’s 17-point effort. It was a well-balanced attack for the Clippers as the first and second units each scored 58 points. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin led the starting five with 14 points apiece.
Defensively the Clippers had one of their best efforts of the season, holding the Kings to 38.2% shooting and forcing 17 turnovers.
"I just thought we jumped out on them well,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We caught them on a back-to-back which helps. But I thought our demeanor and our discipline were more solid early on. Our starters got off to a good start in terms of just moving the basketball. Chris [Paul] picked up those first two, quick fouls early in the first, so we had to get him out early. [Eric Bledsoe] was very active. Jamal [Crawford] was consistent. I thought Ronny [Turiaf] gave us some very good minutes. The starters got us off to that good start and everybody fed off that. Our bench came in and the ball moved and we didn’t turn it over.”
Rockets 124, Jazz 116: Six players scored in double figures for the visiting Jazz Saturday, but they were outscored 39-30 in the fourth quarter. They allowed the Rockets to shoot 55.4% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc.
The Jazz trailed by 10 early in the fourth, but put together a 9-0 run to make it 105-104. The Rockets had an answer, though, outscoring the Jazz 19-12 to close out the game.
Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Al Jefferson and former Clipper Randy Foye scored 20 apiece and Paul Millsap had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
DeAndre Jordan vs. Al Jefferson: Jordan is coming off a solid game against Sacramento where he scored 13 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two blocked shots in just 23 minutes. He had some key offensive rebounds and put-back slams in the first quarter and threw down a monstrous right-handed tomahawk jam in the third quarter.
“He played great,” Griffin said. “When he catches the ball deep like that and takes his time, he’s so tough to handle down low. That’s what we need him to do.”
Jefferson leads the Jazz in scoring this season, averaging 16.7 points per game. He is shooting 47.2% from the field this season and has five 20-point games.
TWO THINGS TO WATCH
Ball Control: The Clippers turned the ball over just five times in their victory over the Kings. It was the first time the team coughed up the ball fewer than 10 times all season. They are currently ranked 12th in the NBA in turnovers.
The Jazz are 14th in the league in turnovers, averaging 15.4 per game. They coughed it up 14 times in Houston.
The 3-point Line: Both teams are coming off impressive nights from 3-point land. The Clippers hit 12-of-24 shots from distance with four players shooting 50% or better from beyond the arc. Crawford and Caron Butler each drained three 3-pointers.
The Jazz shot 55% from long range against the Rockets, drilling 11 of their 20 attempts. Foye, the former Clipper, led the team with four 3-pointers and Hayward hit 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Marvin Williams (concussion symptoms) will not play for the Jazz, Derrick Favors (strained right arch) is doubtful… The Jazz lead the all-time series against the Clippers with a 98-61 record against Los Angeles… Chauncey Billups has connected on three field goals in his first two games, all of them 3-pointers… Mo Williams played 74 games with the Clippers, averaging 13.2 points, 3.1 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 28.3 minutes per game during the 2011-12 season.