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Clippers become first visitor to escape Utah with a win

The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- It took a wild finish, but the Los Angeles Clippers did something no other NBA road team was able to do in the first month of the season.

Win at Utah.

Blake Griffin scored 30 points, Jamal Crawford hit two key free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining, and the Clippers outscored the previously unbeaten-at-home Jazz by 11 in the fourth quarter to escape with a 105-104 win Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

"We got stops defensively and got some open looks," said Griffin, who also grabbed 11 rebounds. "(We) got some easy buckets in transition. That's what it takes sometimes."

Utah's Randy Foye hit a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds remaining and then stole the inbounds pass from his former team, but the guard couldn't get off a potential game-winning shot before the final buzzer.

"It's a tough loss," Foye said. "I felt like we played really hard and we played together. They made some shots at the end, a couple of bounces didn't go our way, but overall I think we played pretty hard."

Mo Williams, who played for the Clippers the previous season and a half, led Utah with 20 points and a season-high 12 assists. Foye added 19 points. It wasn't quite enough for the Jazz to prevent their first loss in seven home games this season.

The Jazz led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but Griffin and Crawford, who scored 20, sparked the Clippers' comeback.

Utah was frustrated by some of the calls that went the Clippers' way down the stretch, including Williams being called for a foul on a Chauncey Billups 3-point attempt. Billups hit two of three free throws to tie the game at 99-99 with 1:14 remaining.

Los Angeles (11-6), which attempted nine more free throws than the home team did, earned its third win in a row.

Utah (9-10) lost its third consecutive game, even though the team shot 74 percent in the first quarter and 56.8 percent for the game.

The Jazz were 11-for-15 from the free-throw line, while the Clippers went 17-for-24.

"Tough one," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "For the most part, the guys put forth a great effort. We had chances to win the ballgame."

Utah center Al Jefferson finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but he had a potential game-tying dunk blocked by DeAndre Jordan in the final half-minute.

"That was the play of the game," said Clippers guard Chris Paul, who contributed 14 points and nine assists. "I watched it happen. ... (Jordan) had to cover a lot of ground."

On the previous play, Paul drove by his defender, 6-foot-8 DeMarre Carroll, who was screened by Jordan, and blew past Jefferson before sinking a layup. The basket put Los Angeles ahead for good, 101-99, with 39.9 seconds remaining.

That set up a bizarre finish.

First Jordan blocked Jefferson, but Clippers forward Matt Barnes kept Utah's hopes alive by missing two of four free throws.

Crawford's two foul shots put the Clippers ahead 105-101 with 5.7 seconds left, which seemed like a safe lead considering Utah didn't have any timeouts remaining.

Foye hit a 3-pointer, tipped an initial inbounds pass out of bounds and then picked off Chauncey Billups' errant pass behind the 3-point arc. The buzzer sounded as Foye was going up for a final shot.

After a rough weekend, the Jazz came out with extra energy in the first half Monday.

Utah outscored Los Angeles 31-19 and shot 74 percent in its best first quarter of the season.

The Jazz went ahead by as many as 14 points, even getting good play from the end of the bench.

Griffin caught fire in the second quarter and scored 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting, but Utah took a 58-51 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Gordon Hayward topped Jazz scorers off the bench with 13 first-half points, including two free throws.

Though the Clippers have the Lob City nickname, the Jazz have the reigning NBA dunk champion, Jeremy Evans, who had two crowd-pleasing slams in the first half. One was a high-flying putback, and Earl Watson teamed up with him for a nice alley-oop dunk.

NOTES: The Clippers recorded their largest comeback of the season. ... Jazz starting small forward Marvin Williams (concussion-like symptoms) and key backup big man Derrick Favors (strained right arch) missed Monday's game. Both are day-to-day. ... Favors had an MRI exam Sunday that was inconclusive, but an ultrasound Monday confirmed that he has plantar fasciitis. ... The Jazz held a moment of silence before tipoff in honor of the late Rick Majerus, who led the University of Utah to the NCAA championship game in 1998. Majerus, who died Saturday due to a heart condition, was at Utah from 1989-2004, his longest coaching stint.
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