Griffin scores 30, Clippers survive vs. Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Randy Foye knew what was coming. He had seen Chris Paul do it many times as a teammate in Los Angeles last year.
This time, going against the Clippers, Foye raced backcourt to steal the inbounds pass and put up a 3-pointer that would have won the game for the Utah Jazz.
Unlike his 3-pointer that pulled Utah within one point with 1.2 seconds remaining, this one missed its mark and was too late, allowing the Clippers to hang on for the 105-104 victory in Salt Lake City.
“I wish there were 3 seconds left because I would have been able to get to the basket or line it up and knock it down,” said Foye, who came to the Jazz as a free-agent this offseason.
“But it wasn’t meant to be.”
Blake Griffin led Los Angeles with a season-high 30 points and Jamal Crawford added 20 off the bench, including a pair of late free throws for the Clippers.
Early on, Monday’s game looked like it might be a Jazz blowout.
“In the first half, it was almost a waste of time because no one showed up,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said of his team, which was still down 14 late in the third. “Our defense was weak, we were soft and we had no toughness. … But I was very pleased with the way we responded … and made plays down the stretch.”
One of the biggest came from 6-foot-11 center DeAndre Jordan. He blocked Al Jefferson’s short floater that would have tied the score at 101 with 26 seconds remaining.
“That block was the play of the game,” Paul said. “DJ had to cover a lot of ground to get there and block that shot.”
From there, the teams would trade free throws, with Matt Barnes and Crawford sinking a pair each for L.A. and Mo Williams making two for the Jazz until Foye nearly became the Jazz hero.
The loss was the first at home this season for the Jazz and first at home for Utah since a 107-105 setback against Phoenix on April 4.
Early on, a pair of ex-Clippers did much of the damage.
Williams led the Jazz (9-10) against his former team with 20 points and 12 assists, and Foye added 19 points. Al Jefferson had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Utah.
Paul added 14 points for Los Angeles, but scored six in the fourth on 3-of-4 shooting after the Clippers entered the quarter trailing by 10.
“He’s a gamer,” Williams said of Paul. “He’s going to show up in the fourth quarter. I’ve seen it enough. But I thought we did our job tonight. Unfortunately things just didn’t go our way.”
There was the foul on Chauncey Billups by Williams on an errant 3-point attempt. The Jazz thought it was a flop but Billups got the call and sank 2 of 3 free throws to tie the score at 99.
“Big call,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “The referees saw it a different way but I thought we did everything we could to challenge the shot.”
There also was the loose-ball foul called on DeMarre Carroll during a near scrum with 3:36 left and the Jazz clinging to a 3-point lead.
Crawford hit a 22-foot jumper to pull the Clippers within 94-93 a few seconds later.
And there was Jordan’s block.
“DJ can affect the game in so many ways,” said Griffin. “That play was as big of a play as we had all night.”
It helped the Clippers (11-6) win their third straight, and third with Billups back in the lineup.
Jordan said the defensive effort against Jefferson made the difference in the second half.
“I think just being physical with Al, making his catches difficult, pushing him out on the block, just kind of denying the post pass a little bit,” Jordan said. “Our guards did a great job of pressuring the passer, which made it a difficult pass to get in.”
The Jazz were playing without small forward Marvin Williams because of concussion-like symptoms and power forward Derrick Favors, who missed his second straight with plantar fasciitis.
Mo Williams, who played behind Paul and Billups last year in L.A. and alongside Foye, did his best to make up the difference.
One of his 12 assists came on a behind-the-back gem to Jefferson that the Jazz big man slammed for a 94-91 Utah advantage with 3:56 remaining.
He also had a pinpoint pass down the middle of the lane to Foye for a layup that gave Utah a 31-19 lead after one quarter.
Williams downplayed that he was revved up because it was the Clippers.
He gave quick bear hugs to his former teammates before the game, and even extended a hand to help Paul up when he had the ball stolen away in the second quarter. While there were tense moments late after a questionable foul and players from both sides jawed and pointed fingers in front of the Jazz bench, Williams went over and shook his ex-teammates hands after the game had ended.
“I knew we were playing a really good team that has a really good point guard, one of the best in the league and just had to step up to the challenge,” Williams said. “That’s every night, but obviously when you’re playing guys like that, you’ve got to get extra motivated to play against them because they’re so good.”
He and Foye just didn’t have enough in the end.
NOTES: The Jazz honored former University of Utah basketball coach Rick Majerus with a moment of silence before the game. Majerus died Saturday in Los Angeles while awaiting a heart transplant. He was 64. … Former Jazz shot-blocking great Mark Eaton sat next to former coach Jerry Sloan in the stands. … The Jazz made 10 of their first 15 shots and were shooting 66 percent at halftime.