Still smarting from a 26-point loss to the Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers took out their frustration on the Utah Jazz.
Caron Butler scored 21 points and the Clippers rode a big third quarter to a 107-94 victory on Saturday night, completing their first season sweep of the Jazz since 1978-79.
”We had some fight, some passion, some enthusiasm, some fire,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said.
Blake Griffin and Lamar Odom added 18 points each, and DeAndre Jordan had 12 rebounds for the Pacific Division-leading Clippers, who went 4-0 against the Jazz this season and have won six straight over Utah dating to last year.
”We’re playing for something bigger than just these wins,” said Chris Paul, who had 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Reserve Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 23 points, Paul Millsap added 19 and Al Jefferson 16 as their three-game winning streak ended. They dropped to 10-19 on the road.
”I wasn’t even alive 34 years ago, so it doesn’t matter back then,” Jefferson said. ”But we had a chance in each and every game we played them. There were two games in Utah that we were up 20-plus points and they came back. But congratulations to them for sweeping us. Hopefully we’ll meet them in the playoffs and not have to take care of it next year.”
Los Angeles shot 51 percent two nights after West-leading San Antonio handed the team its worst defeat of the season.
”We were just a lot more focused. That San Antonio game left a really bad taste in our mouth,” Chauncey Billups said.
The Clippers broke open a close game in the third when they outscored Utah 36-20. Griffin had 12 points and Butler 11 in the period that began with them leading by two. Los Angeles opened on a 23-4 run — including 14 in a row — dominated by Griffin and Butler, who combined to score all but two of their team’s points. It ended with the Clippers’ largest lead of 74-53.
”At halftime we talked about coming out and getting stops,” Griffin said. ”It was really just effort. That’s what got the lead back.”
The highlight play came near the end of the spurt when Griffin went sliding across the court on his belly in a desperate attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds. He succeeded by mere inches, firing it to Billups, who found Butler waiting on the left wing. He hoisted a 3-pointer that swished through the net as 19,165 fans roared their approval.
”I thought I was going to slide out of bounds, but somehow I stuck so it worked out,” Griffin said.
Billups said, ”Extra-effort plays are ones that win it. That’s a play that puts you over the top.”
The Jazz never got closer than 16 the rest of the third, and trailed 87-69.
”We gave them too many easy shots and turned the ball over too many times, and you can’t give teams that confidence in the third quarter,” Jefferson said. ”We played well enough to win in the first half, but we missed a lot of shots after that.”
Griffin and Butler joined the second unit midway through the fourth after the Jazz closed to 97-84. Odom scored seven straight points to keep the Clippers ahead 104-84. He scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half.
”That’s the kind of scoring I remember from Lamar when he was on the Lakers,” Griffin said.
Odom shot 8 of 15 and his 18 points were a season high to go with six rebounds.
”L.O. was unbelievable,” Paul said. ”Without his spark and aggression, we don’t win this game. When he’s aggressive it changes the dynamics of our team. I’m one of the guys who’s always telling him to shoot it. He’s always open.”
Odom hadn’t scored more than four points in the Clippers’ five previous games.
”I’m starting to get my legs underneath me. I’m just trying to stay at it, work hard,” he said. ”I’m trying to fit in and do whatever I can do to help the team win.”
Hayward said Odom caused problems for the Jazz.
”Usually, you’re trying to shut down Jamal Crawford, and that’s a task in itself,” he said. ”When you’ve got another guy who’s rolling like that, that makes it really difficult.”
Los Angeles opened the second on an 11-2 run, including seven by Crawford that restored its lead to 11 points.
The Jazz answered with a 20-10 spurt to take their first lead, 45-44. Jefferson scored 10 points and Hayward had eight. Crawford, Paul and Billups combined for all of the Clippers’ points.
The Clippers saw an 11-point lead early in the game dwindle to 25-23 after the first, when Millsap scored 15 of Utah’s points.
Jazz coach Ty Corbin and Millsap got technical fouls in the second, as did Griffin. … In the third quarter, the referees reversed their initial flagrant foul-1 call on Griffin, who went up to block Alec Burks’ attempted dunk. After a review they decided it was a two-shot foul. … Ex-Clipper Randy Foye needs five 3-pointers to break Mehmet Okur’s single-season franchise record of 129. Foye missed all five of his long-range attempts. … Utah G Mo Williams missed the game against his old team while recovering from thumb surgery.