A Bad Quarter Denies Clippers a Chance for Change – LA Times

By Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times

 Reporting from Salt Lake City – One quarter from ending a streak flirting with ignominy.

Twelve minutes from getting their first win in Utah since 2003, so long ago that in those days, Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan were barely starting to think about where they might go to college.

After three quarters Friday night, the Clippers were ready and seemingly poised to win a game at EnergySolutions Arena, after having lost 12 straight in Salt Lake City, and 35 of 36.

Then they played the fourth quarter.

“I don’t think it was a letdown. I think they just kicked our butts. They just beast-ed us,” Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said.

And the Clippers (0-3) turned into beasts of burden. The Jazz opened the fourth with a 10-0 run and never looked back, winning, 111-98, in its home opener.

Punctuation was provided by Ronnie Price’s thunderous one-handed dunk, after which he landed hard and slammed the floor with his hand for emphasis.

Talk about body slamming the Clippers. This was the basketball version of getting run over by a truck, and, for good measure, the Jazz backed right up over the Clippers.

And Utah was without center Mehmet Okur, who injured his left ankle and left knee in the season opener against Denver. Still, there were plenty of usual Jazz suspects: Paul Millsap (23 points), Carlos Boozer (20 points, 12 rebounds) and dynamic point guard Deron Williams (21 points, nine assists).

“We just didn’t bring it,” said Clippers center Chris Kaman, who had 21 points. “We didn’t bring it in the fourth quarter. We played three good quarters, and didn’t finish the game.”

Always the finish line is so elusive in Salt Lake City.

“It’s hard to breathe here,” said the Clippers’ Al Thornton, who was two for 10 from the field and finished with 12 points.

Illustration of that came in several categories.

The Jazz had 26 second-chance points. The Clippers? One.

“Twenty-six second-chance points. You can’t live with that number,” Dunleavy said.

Offensive rebounds: Utah 12, Clippers three.

Bench scoring: Jazz 38, Clippers 16.

Millsap, Utah’s sixth man, scored 14 of his 23 in the fourth quarter.

What did go well, in stretches, for the Clippers was the guard play and chemistry between Baron Davis and Gordon, who combined for 43 points — 22 by Gordon.

Davis took issue with the suggestion that the Clippers’ bench was struggling in the last two games.

“You can’t really say the bench is struggling,” he said. “There’s no rotation.” Then to emphasize his point, he repeated it: “There’s no rotation. . . . It’s a matter of trying to figure out who can play with who.”

Davis isn’t reaching for the switch to flip the alarm.

“I’m still a work in progress,” he said. “We’re going to get this thing turned around. I’m not in no panic situation at all because I know the talent we have and the ability.

“Judge us after 20 games, that’s what I say. After 20 games, let’s look up and see where we are . . . and then judge us from there.”