Crawford, Griffin power Clippers over Jazz 102-87
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jamal Crawford scored 27 points off the bench, Blake Griffin had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers pulled away in the third quarter to beat the Utah Jazz 102-87 Saturday night.
The Clippers, looking to win their second straight division title, are 19-7 since Dec. 14 and 11-4 since All-Star point guard Chris Paul separated his right shoulder. They lead second-place Phoenix by 3 1/2 games in the Pacific Division following the Suns' victory over Charlotte. DeAndre Jordan had 14 rebounds and 10 points during a foul-plagued 35 minutes.
Enes Kanter led Utah with 23 points and 14 boards, while teammates Derrick Favors and Jeremy Evans sat out with injuries. Favors has inflammation in his right hip, and Evans has a bruised tailbone and right elbow.
The Jazz lost the second game of a back-to-back set for the 10th time in 13 tries this season, one night after holding an emotional halftime tribute to Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan in Salt Lake City, complete with a banner depicting his win total in 23 years with the club and appearances by Karl Malone and John Stockton.
The Clippers turned a three-point deficit into a 73-61 lead with an 18-3 run highlighted by Griffin's reverse alley-oop dunk off a lob from Crawford with 2:43 left in the third quarter. The Jazz got as close as 88-79 on a pair of free throws by Gordon Hayward with 6:10 to play.
Despite outshooting Utah 51.5 percent to 41 percent in the first half, the Clippers had to settle for a 42-all tie at the break after the lead changed hands nine times.
Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers had to summon Ryan Hollins and Crawford off the bench earlier than he expected after Jordan picked up his second foul with 8:11 left in the first quarter and shooting guard J.J. Redick got his second one just 64 seconds later. But the Clippers demonstrated again why they possess one of the deepest teams in the NBA as they shot 51.4 percent from the field and held the Jazz to 35.8 percent.
Alec Burks, the first player off the Jazz bench, missed seven of eight shots and finished with four points. Rudy Gobert, the second player off the bench, fouled out with 8:04 remaining and finished with five points in 18 minutes.
The Clippers won their eighth straight meeting with Utah, making it their longest winning streak against the Jazz since the franchises began competing against each other in 1974-75.
NOTES: Jordan entered Saturday leading the NBA in rebounding average (14.0) and field goal percentage (64.9). Only one player in the previous 40 seasons has finished first in both categories: Dwight Howard in 2009-10 with Orlando (13.2 rebounds, 61.2 percent shooting). The only player prior to that to have accomplished the feat was Wilt Chamberlain, who did it eight times between 1960-61 and 1972-73. ... The Clippers are 14-0 when shooting at least 50 percent, and 41-3 since the start of last season. ... The Clippers are 19-0 at home when leading after three quarters and 32-3 overall in those situations. ... Griffin scored a season-high 40 points against the Jazz on Dec. 28 in a 98-90 Clippers victory at Staples Center, including 14 free throws on 17 attempts. ... Jordan, trying to join Michael Cage (1987-88) as the only Clippers to win a rebounding title, recorded his 3,000th rebound in the NBA during the regular season after a missed layup by Trey Burke in the third quarter. ... Burks averaged 18.4 points over his previous eight games- the first four as a starter while Hayward was sidelined with a hip flexor.
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