Clippers-Jazz Preview


While Blake Griffin's incredible dunk during the Los Angeles Clippers' last game dominated the headlines, the team's recent efforts are all the more becoming of some well-deserved acclaim.

Seeking a season-best fourth consecutive win, Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles tries to avoid a 43rd loss in 44 road meetings with the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.

The Clippers (12-6), who three days after knocking off Memphis 98-91 prevailed 109-105 at Denver on Sunday, are coming off arguably their most impressive win of the season. Los Angeles shot 56.3 percent from the floor - 13 of 25 from 3-point range - in handing NBA-leading Oklahoma City a 112-100 defeat Monday.

"We can't say that we've arrived after this game," Chris Paul, who posted 26 points and 14 assists, told the team's official website. "We're going to look at the film and there's still a lot of things we've got to clean up, but like I keep saying it's a great win for us especially with a young team like this."

The Clippers are shooting 50.0 percent in averaging 106.3 points during their run - significantly higher than their season mark of 98.6 per game.

"We're not going to read too much into it," Paul said of the team's recent play. "It let us know what we're capable of. We can explode offensively."

Paul's performance Monday left little to be desired but it was Griffin who stole the show - exploding for a one-handed monster jam over Thunder center Kendrick Perkins to send the crowd into a frenzy. He finished with 22 points and seven rebounds.

"Chris Paul was running around, getting what he wanted to get on the floor and making passes to guys for wide-open dunks and 3s," said Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. "It's tough to stop."

Paul and Griffin now look to keep things going against a Utah team that's dominated this series at home. The Jazz (12-7) have outscored the Clippers by an average of 13.9 points during a 16-game winning streak on their own court.

Utah continued its home success over Los Angeles with a 108-79 victory Jan. 17, but the Clippers were without Paul in that matchup due to a strained left hamstring. The Jazz, meanwhile, will be shorthanded in this game, with Raja Bell (strained right adductor) out and Al Jefferson (inflamed right ankle) expected to be a game-time decision.

Utah, though, managed to overcome the absence of those two starters during a 93-89 win over Portland on Monday. Paul Millsap had 19 points and 15 boards as the Jazz battled back from an 11-point deficit.

"There's no quit in this group of guys. I've seen these guys go through a lot," coach Tyrone Corbin told the league's official website. "Those first two games of the season, we didn't play well at all. Everybody said, 'Look, we have to step it up and be more focused,' and we're doing it, and we're going to continue to do it. If we lose games when we're playing hard, we can deal with it, but we want to play hard every night and give it all we have."

Also coming up big was swingman Gordon Hayward, who scored 12 points down the stretch after missing his first eight shots.

"I was trying to forget the first half," Hayward said. "It's something I don't think any player wants to do ... missing layups, missing wide-open shots. ... You need to keep shooting."

The Clippers last prevailed in Salt Lake City just over nine years ago, 96-89 on Jan. 22, 2003.

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