Griffin scores 40 in Clippers' win

Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Fouls were the only obstacle for Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin.
Griffin had 40 points and 10 rebounds, leading the Clippers to a 98-90 victory over the Utah Jazz before a sellout crowd of 19,278 at the Staples Center on Saturday night.
After picking up two fouls that limited him to two points in four minutes in the first quarter, Griffin never was whistled for another foul. He became unstoppable offensively from the second quarter on.
Griffin scored at least 30 points for the second game in a row. His performance came on the heels of a 35-point, 11-rebound outing in an overtime loss on Thursday night to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Griffin has 23 double-doubles this season.
"I looked at the stat sheet after the game and said, 'Wow, he got 40,'" said Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who almost reached a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and five steals.
"I think his confidence is pretty high -- rightfully so. It's great to see him dominating the game, whether it's jump shots, in the post (and) at the free throw line. It's fun to watch."
Griffin's play allowed the Clippers (21-11) to end a two-game skid and beat the Jazz (9-24) for the sixth consecutive time.
"I think I'm learning to play (and) taking what the game gives (me)," said Griffin, who couldn't resist a little humor by pointing out to the media that he was shooting for a "cripple-double" with his eight turnovers.
Griffin, who scored 26 points in the second half, hit 13 of 20 shots from the floor and connected on 14 of 17 free throws.
Reserve center Enes Kanter led Utah with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and forwards Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams had 15 points apiece.
Griffin sparked an 8-0 surge by the Clippers after two free throws by Utah guard Trey Burke, who finished with 12 points, tied the score at 90 with 2:33 remaining. The Jazz, though, never scored again.
"They made some plays and I think our inexperience showed the last couple of minutes," Jefferson said. "That's a team that's been together for a couple of years and is one of the best teams in the NBA.
"When you get down to the last minute, it's about execution, it's not about turning the ball over and getting the shot you want. Unfortunately, in about a minute-and-a half, we had about three errors."
A dunk by Griffin, a 3-pointer by guard Jamal Crawford, who had 13 points, two Paul free throws and another one by Griffin with 1:19 left gave Los Angeles all it needed.
"We got stops. After two minutes, they didn't score. That's what the game really came down to," Griffin said.
The Clippers never trailed after grabbing the lead in the third quarter. A layup by reserve forward Matt Barnes capped an 11-2 run late in the quarter, giving the Clippers a 67-58 lead with 2:22 remaining. But the Jazz cut the margin to 68-65 after a 3-pointer by guard Gordon Hayward ended the third-quarter scoring.
Both teams started slow offensively, with each shooting below 40 percent from the field in the first quarter and hitting a shade above it -- 41.2 percent for the Jazz compared with 41 percent for the Clippers -- in the first half.
Utah could have been excused since it was playing the second game of a back-to-back. The Jazz posted a 105-103 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, but the Clippers had a day to recover from their 116-112 overtime loss at Portland.
The Jazz, though, led for most of the first half and were up 43-42 at the break. Jefferson scored 12 points and Williams had nine in the first half.
Griffin scored 12 of his 14 first-half points in the second quarter. Paul had 13 points at the half.
NOTES: Los Angeles reserve C Ryan Hollins missed the game for personal reasons. ... Clippers F Blake Griffin is the only NBA player averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and 50 percent shooting from the floor. ... Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers is impressed with the play of Jazz F Derrick Favors, whose dunk with 2.1 seconds left beat the Lakers on Friday night. "He's playing unbelievable," Rivers said before the game. "He's so athletic. He's a big, strong athletic kid that has a nice shot." ... The Jazz have a better record on the road (5-14) than at home (4-10). They also have compiled an 8-10 mark after starting the season 1-14. ... The Jazz return home to host the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday. The Clippers will play the Phoenix Suns on Monday at Staples.

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