SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — After a quarter of looking like the weary team that had a late night traveling after a game, the Utah Jazz appeared much more like a Western Conference contender for the next three.
The Jazz recovered from another slow start and rolled over the Los Angeles Clippers 107-85 on Saturday night, giving Utah its 40th win of the season in a vital home game that was sandwiched in between road trips.
Utah outscored Los Angeles 56-35 in the second half and atoned for getting upset by the Clippers earlier in the week.
“The first half, we couldn’t run on the floor. We couldn’t really do what we’re used to doing,” said Mehmet Okur, who had 27 points to lead the Jazz. “The second was different. We want to be different. We wanted to be active from the beginning.”
Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams each added double-doubles for the Jazz, who won their 40th game of the season. Boozer had 17 points and 17 rebounds, Williams finished with 10 points and 10 assists and Utah turned the ball over only six times in the game.
The first quarter was the only blemish
“They got out and got after us in the first quarter, just like they did when we played them down there,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
The Jazz are just a game behind Denver in the Northwest Division and are also contending for a high playoff seed. They can’t afford to lose at home as long as they struggle on the road, where they are headed for four straight starting Tuesday in Chicago.
“They’re all important right now with where we’re at and the teams we’re competing with for the second third and fourth seeds,” said Kyle Korver, who added 12 points for the Jazz. “You can’t slip up at all in home games or road games.”
The Clippers had lost at home the night before to Oklahoma City and fizzled in the second half, scoring just 13 in the fourth quarter.
Drew Gooden had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Clippers. Chris Kaman added 12 points and 13 rebounds and Baron Davis had 11 points and eight assists for the Clippers, who held off the Jazz 108-104 on Monday. The Clippers started strong Saturday, but couldn’t sustain it and the Jazz started to pull away with a 32-point third quarter.
The Clippers’ 20 turnovers also didn’t help, leading to 28 points for the Jazz.
“We got in a rut when we turned the ball over, which was a ridiculous amount of times,” Clippers coach Kim Hughes said.
After a lackluster first quarter, the Jazz got the lead late in the second quarter and then surged in the second half for a rout. Utah opened the third quarter with seven straight points, closed it on a 10-4 run for an 83-72 lead entering the fourth, then pulled away on a 9-2 run.
“The last threw quarters were great for us,” Williams said. “We started off slow, something we’ve kind of made a habit of but we were able to get it back and we got the victory.”
Korver hit a 3-pointer to put Utah up 92-78, then Okur put back an offensive rebound with a dunk that gave the Jazz a 94-78 lead with 6:10 left in the game. Okur scored off his own miss, charging the lane after putting up a 3-pointer that clanged hard off the rim and set up an easy dunk. It was the Jazz’s second offensive rebound of the possession.
The Clippers had a 4-on-1 later in the quarter after Davis saved the ball under Utah’s basket and passed it out to midcourt, but even that didn’t result in a score. Gooden was called for traveling — Los Angeles’ 19th turnover of the game.
Okur followed that with a 3-pointer to put the Jazz ahead 99-80 and the starters were about done for the night.
“I think our legs caught up with us,” Gooden said. “It’s tough to play here.”
NOTES: The Clippers were 13 for 23 in the first quarter and led 32-26 entering the second period. … G Othyus Jeffers, signed by the Jazz this week to a 10-day contract, made his NBA debut late in the fourth quarter and quickly got his first points on a layup. … C.J. Miles added 11 points for Utah.