Jazz 101, Clippers 91
LOS ANGELES (AP)
The Jazz are 5-0 in the preseason for the first time in the franchise's 35-year history. The team's best overall exhibition mark was 7-1 in October 1994 and October 2003. Al Jefferson, acquired in an offseason trade with Minnesota, had 17 points after scoring 24 points Thursday night in a 108-97 victory over Phoenix.
The Jazz shot 54 percent and outscored the Clippers 46-32 in the paint despite the absence of center Mehmet Okur, still working his way back from surgery in April to repair a ruptured Achilles' tendon. All-Star guard Deron Williams also missed the game because of a strained right calf. Kyrylo Fesenko sat out because of a sprained right wrist, Francisco Elson was unavailable due to a hamstring problem.
Eric Gordon led the Clippers (1-5) with 23 points. Much-heralded rookie Blake Griffin had 17 points and 14 rebounds in 34 minutes after getting into early foul trouble. Point guard Baron Davis had 10 points and eight assists in 24 minutes before fouling out with 3:58 left in the game. Chris Kaman had 14 points and eight rebounds.
Utah took its biggest lead, 78-64, on a short jumper by Miles that capped an 18-7 run with 1:19 left in the third quarter. The Jazz entered the fourth with a 98-90 lead, but that was sliced to 82-79 with 9:37 remaining after Griffin converted a three-point play and followed it with a driving dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.
New Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro decided to give Griffin a blow shortly thereafter, and the Jazz pulled away to a 90-81 lead as Miles converted an offensive rebound into a layup and Jeremy Evans followed with a dunk with 5:44 to play. Griffin returned to the floor following a Clippers timeout, but they got no closer than 93-88 on a layup by Craig Smith with 2:28 left.
Griffin, who had 24 points and 14 rebounds Thursday night in a 100-95 loss to Denver, picked up three fouls in the first 7 1-2 minutes and went to the bench with the Clippers holding a two-point lead.
When he reported back in with 6:48 left in the second quarter, Los Angeles still led 34-31. But Utah pulled ahead 51-47 by halftime after the Clippers committed four turnovers in the final 2:23 of the half - two of which were on bad passes that second-year swingman Othysus Jeffers intercepted and converted into baskets.
NOTES: Davis received a technical foul from referee Scott Twardoski with 6:42 left in the third quarter after Alexei Kirilenko stole the ball from him. Moments earlier, referee Violet Palmer ignored Davis' loud protest on a non-call under the Clippers basket. ... Utah F Gordon Hayward, the ninth overall pick in the draft, entered the game at the start of the second quarter and was called four three fouls in his first 5 1-2 minutes on the floor. He played 17 minutes and had eight points.