LOS ANGELES (AP) In a matchup of injury-riddled teams, the Utah Jazz had more depth and made it matter.
Alec Burks scored a season-high 28 points off the bench and the Jazz went on a 22-4 run early in the fourth quarter Thursday night to turn a one-point advantage into a 126-107 victory over the worn-out Los Angeles Clippers.
”Our defense was awful in the first half,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. ”I think we got pleased with ourselves because we were scoring, and then wouldn’t guard. I thought in the second half we dug in a little bit.”
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It was the fourth consecutive victory for the Jazz, who were without four injured players – including starting center Rudy Gobert and leading scorer Rodney Hood.
Still, seven Utah players scored in double figures. Rookie guard Donovan Mitchell had 24 points and six assists.
”I think we’re just scratching the surface with how good we can be,” said Jonas Jerebko, who added 14 points.
The Clippers played without four starters. Austin Rivers led Los Angeles with 25 points, but only seven after the first half. Lou Williams had 20.
”Lou and Austin were gassed a little bit and it’s tough when they had the ball the entire time,” coach Doc Rivers said.
Utah ended up outscoring the Clippers 32-20 in the fourth quarter. Jazz reserves outscored their Los Angeles counterparts 49-30.
”They’re trying,” Snyder said. ”The Clippers are in a tough spot right now. We play these games and we’re depleted, but they’re in a tough spot. You feel for them, but we came out to play.”
DeAndre Jordan at center is the Clippers’ lone healthy starter. He finished with eight points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
”Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” Jordan said. ”The NBA is full of injuries. We just have to play and figure out a way.”
Jazz: With Hood sidelined by a sore left ankle, Utah listed four players out on its daily injury report, including Gobert (bruised tibia), Joe Johnson (wrist tendon instability) and Dante Exum (shoulder surgery). ”We’ve got our work cut out for us, there’s no secret there,” Snyder said. ”You may not be able to push through at a high level in terms of wins and losses, but you just compete. That’s all you can do.”
Clippers: Los Angeles’ injury situation is even worse. The Clippers are missing starters Blake Griffin (MCL sprain), Patrick Beverley (knee surgery), Danilo Gallinari (sprained ankle) and Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia). ”Everybody just needs to do their job, play their role. The games won’t be 30-30, I guarantee you. Someone’s going to make some shots,” Rivers said.
Despite scoring 126 points, the Jazz pointed to improved defense in the second half for turning a tight game into an easy win.
”We came out in the second half and played with a lot more energy, especially on the defensive end,” said Derrick Favors, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Still, the Clippers shot 54.3 percent overall.
UP THE TEMPO
The Jazz were a more methodical team when they played the Clippers in October and lost 102-84. Utah ran more on Thursday and had 12 points off its fast break.
”It starts with (Snyder) and the way he wants to play, and the players we have,” Jerebko said. ”We have all unselfish guys who know how to pass the ball and how to move the ball, so it’s fun to play.”
Jazz: Return home Friday to play the Pelicans. Utah is 18-8 in Salt Lake City against New Orleans.
Clippers: Travel to Dallas to face the Mavericks on Saturday. Los Angeles has won eight of the last 12 meetings.