THE FACTS: Chris Paul was mostly quiet for three quarters against the Utah Jazz on Monday night, but it seemed inevitable that he'd make a push for his Los Angeles Clippers.
Paul did that and more, taking over in the fourth quarter of the Clippers' 105-104 victory over the Jazz. Paul scored the go-ahead basket off a high pick-and-roll to put Los Angeles up 101-99 with 33.9 seconds left. Paul masterfully directed things on offense in the fourth quarter for the Clippers, who trailed by 14 points in the first half and 10 points to start the final period.
The Jazz had no answer for Blake Griffin, who scored a season-high 30 points and had 11 rebounds to lead the Clippers. Jamal Crawford had 20 points off the bench, while Paul had 14 points and nine assists. Paul had six points, two assists and no turnovers in the final period.
Former Clippers Mo Williams and Randy Foye led Utah, which was ahead for almost the entire contest and suffered its first home defeat of the season. Williams had 20 points and 12 assists, while Foye had 19 points. Foye made a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in the contest, then stole the in-bounds pass but his shot came after the buzzer and missed.
QUOTABLE: "That's his M.O. -- set everybody up in the beginning and then at the end (play) like an assassin trying to end it all."
-- Jazz guard Foye on Paul's play on Monday night.
THE STAT: One of the Clippers' strengths this season has been their bench play and the reserves stepped up again against Utah. L.A.'s bench had 44 points, and outscored Utah's reserves in the fourth quarter, 20-4. The Clippers entered Monday's game ranked fourth in the NBA in bench scoring at 40.1 points per game.
TURNING POINT: The Clippers were able to erase a 10-point deficit to start the fourth quarter with stellar defense. They held Utah to just one basket and forced three turnovers in the first 5:42 of the fourth period. That effort set the tone for the rest of the game, and a defensive play by DeAndre Jordan was one of most important plays of the game. After Paul's go-ahead layup, Jordan blocked a runner by Al Jefferson and Chauncey Billups picked up the loose ball to give L.A possession with a two-point lead and 26.9 seconds remaining in the contest.
HOT: Griffin got most of his points near the basket, but also showed some versatility in facing up defenders and using his athleticism and ball-handling skills to get good looks. His mid-range, fade-away jumper with 2:24 remaining that got L.A. within 96-95 was one of the highlights of the game. The Jazz had their best first quarter of the season, shooting 73.7 percent while assisting on 10 of 14 made baskets.
NOT: Clippers starter Caron Butler shot just 2-for-8 and sat out the entire fourth quarter. Jazz reserve Alec Burks, whose playing time has been inconsistent and sometimes nonexistent, shot 0-for-3 and went scoreless in 11 minutes.
QUOTABLE II: "The first half looked like we wasted a bunch of jet fuel trying to get up here because no one showed up and it was just a waste of time. Our starters didn't do a good job, we had no toughness, we were soft, our defense was weak. ... I thought Eric Bledsoe did a great job in that second quarter getting us some momentum and getting our energy back. Then we were able to win the second half. It was just a team effort."
-- Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro on the difference between the first and second half.
GOOD MOVE: Billups, playing in his third game of the season, used a savvy, veteran move to draw a foul late in the fourth quarter. As he attempted a 3-pointer with Williams charging at him, Billups appeared to swing his leg to draw contact while shooting and was knocked to the ground by Williams, drawing a foul and getting awarded three foul shots. Jazz fans vehemently disagreed, saying Billups flopped, but it worked and Billups made two of the three free throws to tie the game at 99-99 with 1:14 left in the game.
BAD MOVE: Early in the game, Griffin attempted what would have been a difficult H-O-R-S-E shot. After collecting a loose ball on the floor, Griffin didn't have any great options to pass to with the shot clock winding down, so he took a shot near the baseline while sitting down. It didn't go in. It was the only shot he missed of his first eight attempts.
NOTABLE: The Jazz were without Marvin Williams (concussion symptoms) and Derrick Favors (plantar fasciitis). The Clippers have won three straight, and it was their largest comeback victory of the season. L.A. tied its season-high for points in the paint with 56.
UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Wednesday vs. Mavericks, Saturday vs. Suns, Sunday vs. Raptors. For the Jazz, Wednesday vs. Magic, Friday vs. Raptors, Sunday @ L.A. Lakers.