Clippers-Jazz Preview

The Utah Jazz are coming off a confidence-boosting,

come-from-behind victory. They weren’t as successful against the

Los Angeles Clippers earlier this week, but a change of venue

should help.

After winning a key matchup in the race for playoff position,

the Jazz look to continue their home dominance of the Clippers on

Saturday night.

A 116-108 victory over Phoenix on Thursday night kept Utah

(39-22) in fourth place in the Western Conference, 1 1/2 games

ahead of the Suns.

“You never know what’s going to happen and who’s going to end up

where in the playoffs,” Jazz forward Carlos Boozer said.

“Especially when you’re playing in the ‘Wild West’ where every game

is monumental.”

Utah erased an 11-point deficit with 7:43 remaining and avoided

its fourth loss in six games. Three days earlier, the Jazz nearly

overcame a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter of a 108-104 road

loss to the Clippers (25-37).

At home, though, Utah has won 39 of its last 40 against Los

Angeles. The Jazz are averaging 107.3 points and shooting 50.8

percent during that stretch.

Utah is 24-8 at EnergySolutions Arena this season, averaging

106.2 points and shooting a league-best 51.4 percent.

Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who has been playing with a

brace on his injured right wrist, is averaging 27.5 points and 12.5

assists while shooting 61.8 percent in his last two home games.

Williams scored 13 of his 27 points versus the Suns in the fourth

quarter.

Williams made 5-of-9 shots from 3-point range and the Jazz

finished 12 of 24. Utah is shooting 46.9 percent from beyond the

arc over its last three contests.

Los Angeles was held to 37.2 percent shooting from the field in

a 104-87 loss to Oklahoma City on Friday.

“It’s going to be tough for us to win a game shooting below 38

percent from the floor,” coach Kim Hughes told the Clippers’

official Web site.

The Clippers have lost four of five after winning their previous

three. They’ve also dropped five straight on the road, with

opponents averaging 113.2 points and shooting 49.4 percent from

3-point range.

Chris Kaman remains one of Los Angeles’ few bright spots. He’s

coming off a 19-point, 15-rebound performance, but is averaging

10.6 points in 12 career games at Utah – all losses.

He got some much-needed help in the frontcourt Friday from

reserve Craig Smith, who had 19 points and seven rebounds in 21

minutes after missing two games with a biceps strain. Smith’s

absence had been putting more pressure on Kaman to score in the

post.

Los Angeles got a combined 13 points on 5-of-22 shooting from

starting guards Eric Gordon and Baron Davis. Gordon, however, is

averaging 20.7 points in his last three games against Utah, going 8

for 16 from beyond the arc.

Utah is 2-1 against Los Angeles this season.