LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29: Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots against the Utah Jazz on December 29, 2014 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
AP Photo
December 30, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) Chris Paul couldn't remember the last time the Los Angeles Clippers needed quality practice time more than they do now.

Their play has been a bit ragged at times, yet they were able to do enough good things down the stretch Monday night to hold off the Utah Jazz 101-97 with 24 points from Blake Griffin.

The Clippers haven't been able to get extra time in the gym because of their hectic schedule, so they have to try to improve on the fly. Several times this month, they've had to close the court to reporters at Staples Center before games in order to fit in a couple of much-needed walkthroughs.

''It's been such a blur because there's been so many games,'' Paul said. ''But we can't look at that, or look for excuses like that. We've pushed and fought through some times when guys are a little bit winded.

''We just talk about staying the course and figuring out a way to win. Tonight was one of those nights.''

The victory was the Clippers' 12th straight against Utah, breaking the franchise record for consecutive wins against one team. The previous mark was set against Dallas from Feb. 4, 1992, through March 11, 1994.

''These guys had won four out of five, and this was our fifth time playing them - including preseason,'' Paul said. ''There were a couple of times where we could have gotten some separation, but they kept making timely plays.

''We didn't rebound well as a team. We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds, but we still found a way to win.''

Paul, who recorded his first triple-double with the Clippers during a 107-101 victory over the Jazz on Nov. 3, finished with 20 points and eight assists this time.

It was Griffin's first NBA game with at least 20 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four blocked shots.

''Blake was huge tonight. He made some big shots and got some tough rebounds,'' Paul said. ''He had some tough calls go against him, but he just didn't let it bother him. I think that shows the growth in our team, and also in Blake.''

DeAndre Jordan had 19 rebounds for the Clippers. The two-time defending Pacific Division champions blocked 12 shots and never trailed in the fourth quarter despite leading by no more than five.

''We got stops when we needed to, and Matt Barnes did an unbelievable job on Gordon Hayward,'' Paul said. ''We know how Hayward can score the ball, but when he was making all those moves, Matt was right there, and he never gave up on those plays.''

The Clippers are 10-6 in December with one game left. It's the seventh time they have reached double digits in a month since the start of the 2011-12 season - including December 2012, when they became the first NBA team to go 16-0 in a month. They capped it by beating the Jazz 107-96 at home.

Hayward scored 22 points for the Jazz, and Rudy Gobert added 13 rebounds and 11 points off the bench.

Shooting guard Alec Burks missed his second straight game because of chronic soreness in his left shoulder. He also sat out two games early this month.

''They're a really good team. And for us to fight on the road like this is really positive,'' Hayward said. ''But we just have to close out games a little bit better and find ways to get good looks.''

Paul's 3-pointer with 35.6 seconds left in the third quarter helped Los Angeles pull even at 77-77. Jamal Crawford was outscoring the rest of the Clippers' bench 14-0 until Jordan Farmar made a 3-pointer on his first shot of the game with 10:25 to play.



Jazz: Their most recent victory over the Clippers was on Jan. 17, 2012, when they extended their home winning streak against them to 16 with a 108-79 decision. ... Hayward totaled 57 points against the Clippers in the first two meetings - losses by six and 16 points respectively. The season series concludes on Jan. 28 at Utah. ... Monday marked exactly 13 years since the Jazz gave Jerry Sloan his 800th NBA regular-season coaching victory by beating Philadelphia.

Clippers: They are averaging 12.6 3-pointers over the first 32 games. Their total of 320 is the best in club history at this stage of a season. ... Reserve F Spencer Hawes was back in action and played 12 minutes after sitting out the previous nine games because of a bruised left knee. ... The Clippers are 79-20 since the start of the 2012-13 season, and the .798 winning percentage is the best in the league during that stretch.

Jazz: Host Minnesota on Tuesday.

Clippers: Host New York on Wednesday.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)