The Utah Jazz look to rebound from one of their worst losses of the season as they continue their drive for home-court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs in a matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Utah won a season high-tying six in a row from March 18-28, but that winning run came to an end with a 101-81 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.
“We’re not a good team when we don’t do what we’re supposed to do,” said Jazz guard John Stockton, who finished with 10 points and six assists. “We didn’t execute well and we didn’t play good defense.”
The 20-point defeat tied the Jazz’s sixth-worst loss this season, and moved them 2 1/2 games behind the Portland Trail Blazers for fourth place in the West. Utah plays five of its last nine games on the road, where it is 16-20 this season.
“You win five or six games in a row, you start to feel pretty good about yourself,” said Utah forward Karl Malone, who scored only 11 points in 31 minutes. “Then you come in here and they get after you. They sure did, and we didn’t have an answer. Hopefully, it’s a lesson.”
Los Angeles snapped a four-game losing streak on Sunday, beating the Memphis Grizzlies 102-100 to end March with a 4-12 record.
Corey Maggette scored six of his 18 points in the final 3:19 to help the Clippers win for only the sixth time in 28 games. It was Los Angeles’ fourth victory in 15 games since Dennis Johnson took over the team following the firing of Alvin Gentry.
“The No. 1 priority for them is learning to play unselfish basketball and understanding that it’s a team game,” the interim head coach said.
“If we can do that, there’s no doubt in my mind that we can be an excellent ballclub—not a very good ballclub, but an excellent ballclub because we have the horses to do it.”
The Clippers will get leading scorer and rebounder Elton Brand back after the forward missed 18 games because of a stress fracture above his left ankle.
The Jazz have won 16 of the last 17 meetings with the Clippers, including eight straight in Los Angeles.
STANDINGS: Jazz - 4th place, 12 GB, Midwest Division. Clippers - 7th place, 28 1/2 GB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Jazz - Malone, 20.8 ppg and 7.8 rpg; Stockton, 7.7 apg. Clippers - Brand, 18.4 ppg and 11.2 rpg; Miller, 6.7 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Jazz, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: March 22; Jazz, 88-73. At Salt Lake City, Andrei Kirilenko had 17 points and six blocked shots as the Jazz held the Clippers to the lowest field goal percentage in franchise history—26.3 percent.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Jazz - 16-20 on the road; Clippers - 14-24 at home.
INJURIES: Jazz - F Jarron Collins (knee); C Curtis Borchardt (foot); G Raul Lopez (knee). Clippers - F Cherokee Parks (back); F Tremaine Fowlkes (shoulder); C Michael Olowokandi (knee).