Clippers-Jazz Preview


While Chauncey Billups hasn't put up huge numbers, his presence appears to have given the Los Angeles Clippers a bit of a boost.

The Clippers look to win their third straight game with the five-time All-Star back in the lineup Monday night when they visit the Utah Jazz, who will try for their 13th consecutive regular-season win at home.

Billups has played less than 20 minutes in each of his two starts since recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon that sidelined him for the final 38 games of last season and the first 14 this season.

However, Los Angeles, which had lost four straight before Billups' debut Wednesday, defeated Sacramento 116-81 on Saturday for its second straight win with him back in the lineup.

Billups had six points Saturday - he finished with seven three days earlier - but the Clippers (10-6) outscored the Kings 41-22 while he was on the court.

"I'm not going to take a long time getting adjusted to the other players," Billups said.

The Clippers' bench provided a big lift against Sacramento. Jamal Crawford, Eric Bledsoe and Matt Barnes combined for 43 points, leading seven players in double digits.

Los Angeles ranks fourth in the NBA in bench scoring at 40.1 points per game, and Crawford is the only player to lead his team in scoring (17.5) despite coming off the bench in every game.

"It's a long season, and it's important to get the production out of your starters and your bench," said Barnes, who finished with 12 points.

Blake Griffin has only averaged 12.0 points in the Clippers' last three games, but perhaps he'll put up better numbers in Utah. Griffin has averaged 24.3 points and 12.7 rebounds in six career games against the Jazz (9-9).

The Clippers, seventh in the NBA in scoring (100.6 points per game), finished with a season-high total while shooting 54.7 percent from the field and 12 of 24 from beyond the arc on Saturday.

That doesn't bode well for a Jazz team that allowed Houston to shoot 55.4 percent and score 39 fourth-quarter points Saturday in a 124-116 road loss.

The Jazz, who dropped the last two games of a three-game road trip, have allowed five of their last six opponents to reach 100 points.

"Usually, (defense) is something that all of us from top to bottom take pride in ... and lately we haven't been getting stops," guard Randy Foye told the team's official website.

The Jazz fared better offensively, shooting a season-high 51.1 percent against the Rockets - including a 11 of 20 effort from 3-point range. Gordon Hayward finished with 21 points, while Al Jefferson and Foye each scored 20.

Jefferson, seventh in the NBA at 10.5 rebounds per game, averaged 21.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in the three games against the Clippers last season.

Billups missed 16 of the 20 shots he took in two meetings against the Jazz in 2011-12, but Utah had no answers for Chris Paul. The All-NBA first teamer averaged 30.0 points and shot 65.8 percent in two games in the series, with the Clippers losing by 29 in Salt Lake City in the contest he missed with a left hamstring strain.

This time, Paul will be going head-to-head with the point guard who backed him up for the last season and a half. Mo Williams has averaged 13.9 points and 6.5 assists while starting all 14 games he's been available since joining the Jazz.

Utah may be forced to go without a pair of key components in this meeting, though. Starting forward Marvin Williams (concussion) has missed the past two games and reserve Derrick Favors (strained arch) sat out Saturday, though both could return Monday.

The Jazz are looking for their first 7-0 home start since 2006-07.