Los Angeles (33-23) at Utah (27-30)

Fair Currently: Salt Lake City, UT
Temp: 56° F
  • Game info: 10:00 pm EST Fri Mar 3, 2006
  • TV: ESPN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Los Angeles Clippers have gotten back on track by playing good defense. It can’t get much better than it was in their last outing.

Though they might not set any records this time, the Clippers may have a good opportunity to enjoy another solid defensive performance when they visit the Utah Jazz.

The Los Angeles Clippers held the New Orleans Hornets to an NBA record-low 16 points in the second half of an 89-67 victory on Wednesday.

“Having an all-time record under our belts says a lot about this team,” said Clippers forward Elton Brand, who scored 25 points. “We pride ourselves on defense and boxing out. That’s what coach (Mike Dunleavy) harps on. We watch film on it, trying to improve on it every game.”

After allowing the Hornets to shoot 55 percent from the field in the first half, Los Angeles limited New Orleans to 14.7 percent (5-for-34) after halftime and only eight points in each of the final two quarters. The previous record low for points in a half was 19.

“I think it was our communication on defense,” said Sam Cassell, who had 15 points. “When we do that, we’re at our best. When we don’t communicate, we get our butts whipped. It’s just that simple.”

The victory capped a perfect three-game homestand during which the Clippers did not allow more than 88 points and held the opposition to a combined 38.2 percent from the floor.

This three-game win streak comes on the heels of a season-high five-game losing streak.

Los Angeles now faces a Utah team missing one of its top scorers and struggling offensively, ranked second-to-last in the league with 90.3 points per game.

The Jazz have lost five of seven, getting held under 90 points five times during that stretch. The only time they reached the century mark in that span came in a 117-108 overtime win over the Golden State Warriors on Monday.

The team followed that victory, however, with a 104-89 home loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday as it played without Andrei Kirilenko due to back spasms. Kirilenko is not expected to return before Sunday’s road game against the Seattle SuperSonics.

The loss saw fans at the Delta Center boo the Jazz, who trailed by as many as 20 points to one of the league’s worst teams.

“I’d boo us too,” said Milt Palacio, who scored 17 points off the bench for Utah. “We can’t be up and down. If we’re going to make it (to the NBA playoffs), we’ve got to go from here. We can’t lose games like this.”

Matt Harpring scored 22 points to lead the Jazz, who are 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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