Notebook: Clippers 107, Jazz 96



Posted Dec 31, 2012 1:29 AM

Dan Arritt, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Clippers had won the previous 16 games in a variety of ways. They've led wire to wire in some victories and staged a 19-point second-half comeback in another. Sometimes the reserves have led the way, other times it was last season's All-Stars, point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin. In their latest triumph Sunday night against the visiting Jazz, it was veteran forward Caron Butler who put the Clippers on his back, making all six of his 3-point attempts and scoring a team-high 29 points in the 107-96 victory at Staples Center, their 17th in a row.

THE STAT: The Clippers became the third NBA team to finish 16-0 in a month, joining the 1971-72 Lakers and the 1995-96 Spurs. Three of the December victories came against the Jazz.

QUOTABLE II: "It's been a great month for us. Usually, when we win, we jump up and down once or twice in the locker room. But tonight we got to jump up and down three or four times."

-- Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro

TURNING POINT: Despite missing starting guard Mo Williams (sprained right thumb) and forward Marvin Williams (inflamed right knee), the Jazz still managed to erase a nine-point halftime deficit and take a 76-75 lead on a post move by Al Jefferson with 2:03 left in the third quarter. L.A. clamped down on defense, however, and outscored the Jazz, 4-0, over the remainder of the quarter, then produced the first basket of the fourth to go ahead 81-76. The reserves maintained the lead long enough for Griffin and Paul to check back in with 5:54 left in the game and the Clippers leading by four. Jamal Crawford then scored four straight points and Utah never got closer than five the rest of the way.

HOT: Butler was at his best in the opening quarter, making four 3-pointers in the first 7 1/2 minutes and five overall. He scored 17 points in the quarter to help the Clippers to a quick double-digit lead. The six 3-pointers were the second-most of his career behind the franchise-record nine he made Nov. 26 against the Hornets, which happened to be the last game the Clippers lost.

QUOTABLE II: "I thought [Butler] gave us a big boost early and in the third quarter just scoring the ball. I thought we were, I don't want to say lethargic, but we just didn't have that extra step early on."

-- Del Negro

NOT: The absence of Mo Williams should represent a prime opportunity for second-year point guard Alec Burks to show what he can do. But in the 3 1/2 games since Williams was injured, Burks hasn't taken advantage. He had two points against the Clippers on 1-for-4 shooting. In the last four games, he's 11-for-30 from the field with seven assists and four turnovers. Jamaal Tinsley was somewhat better as Williams' replacement in the starting lineup, finishing with eight points and 11 assists but also committing a season-high five turnovers.

GOOD MOVE: Crawford had another solid game for the Clippers, finishing with 19 points off the bench, but he was getting a little too trigger happy in the fourth quarter, even after Paul checked back into the game. Del Negro switched ball-handling duties to Paul after Crawford didn't pass the ball before missing a 20-footer with just under five minutes remaining. Paul scored on a drive the next trip down the floor, then set up Matt Barnes for a 3-point basket, pushing the lead to 98-90 with 3:13 remaining. The Jazz then intentionally fouled center DeAndre Jordan on two consecutive possessions, but Jordan made three of four from the line to stymie any comeback hopes.

BAD MOVE: The Clippers shot 68.8 percent from the floor in the second quarter and held Utah to 26.9 percent, but only outscored the Jazz by four points because they committed seven turnovers in the quarter and allowed six offensive rebounds.

NOTABLE: Griffin finished with seven points, matching his second-lowest scoring output this season. His lowest scoring game (four) came in Butler's highest-scoring game (33) against the Hornets. ... Paul Millsap, the second-leading scorer on the Jazz behind Jefferson, did not play in the fourth quarter and finished with nine points on 2-for-7 shooting. Millsap matched his season low by playing just 20 minutes. ... Clippers guard Willie Green matched his season high with three assists -- all in the opening quarter.

UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Tuesday @ Denver, Wednesday @ Golden State, Friday vs. L.A. Lakers. For the Jazz, Wednesday vs. Minnesota, Friday @ Phoenix, Saturday @ Denver.