Jazz pick a great time to snap their home losing streak to Clippers
SALT LAKE CITY — For years, the Utah Jazz’s game operation staff unleashed hundreds of streamers from the arena ceiling after a home win.
That fun tradition stopped this season. The organization wanted to switch things up a bit with its game-night presentation, so a decision was made to not shoot out streamers until just the right moment.
Monday provided the perfect opportunity as the Jazz ended their woeful ways against the Los Angeles Clippers and right at a perfect time.
With about a month to go in the regular season and the Western Conference playoff race heating up, the Jazz used a strong second half to beat the Clippers 114-108 Monday night at Vivint Arena.
“It’s a big win,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said. “Everybody came out tonight with an attitude to be aggressive and we played defense.”
If it seems like it’s been a long time since you’ve read about a Jazz win over the Clippers in Utah, it’s because it has been. This was the home team’s first victory against Blake Griffin, Chris Paul & Co. since Feb. 1, 2012.
Before this positive outcome, the Jazz had suffered nine straight home defeats to the Clippers and endured losses in 16 of 17 overall matchups against this L.A. squad.
Utah suffered an ugly 88-72 loss to the Clippers on the same court one month ago to the night.
“We needed this game,” Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said. “We got killed by them last time in our building, so we wanted to come out here and play well. We did that tonight.”
Judging the decibels of sound they made, the Jazz fans clearly loved it.
“I think our crowd was very important tonight,” Jazz point guard George Hill said. “The way they were cheering and making noise, it was definitely like we had that home-court advantage feel. Anytime the crowd is like that, we feed off of that.”
This one had the intensity of playoff game, and it very well could be a preview of a first-round matchup next month.
The Jazz improved to 42-25, securing their first winning season since the 2012-13 campaign, and increased their lead for the No. 4 spot in the West by two full games over the Clippers (40-27) with 15 contests to go.
“It’s probably as close as you’re going to get at this time of the year (to a playoff feel) because we’re both fighting for a top spot in the West,” Jazz forward Joe Johnson said. “Considering both teams know the standings and we knew what we were going to get.”
Chris Paul, who finished with 33 points, seven assists and six rebounds, pushed the Clippers to an early nine-point.
The Jazz came out of the locker room strong in the second half, outscoring the Clippers 40-30 in the third quarter to take a lead that eventually grew to 13. Hill scored 12 and Joe Ingles added in the period, and Utah hit 13 of 17 shots and connected on all six 3-pointers it took in the third.
“I think we were playing pretty good. I felt like we weren’t turning the ball over. Sometimes you’re just kind of due,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of the pivotal third quarter. “I thought Joe Ingles really kept us in it. He made some big shots and then everybody kind of got a good feel. We were sharing the ball. Sometimes they go in and you look awful good when they go in. We’ve had some 15-piont quarters lately so they’ve got to average out a little bit, right?”
Things got chippy in the fourth quarter, especially with Gobert and the Clippers backcourt. At one point, The Stifle Tower was called for a technical foul after giving JJ Redick a high forearm to the face. Paul got T’d up later for extending his arms against Gobert and then pushing him in the back during a big 3-pointer by Joe Johnson.
All of which sets the stage for a potentially fun and physical first-round series.
The two play each other one more time in L.A. later this season before that, so stay tuned for that one.
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Hayward led the Jazz, who embark on a four-game Midwestern trip beginning Wednesday in Detroit, with 27 points. Hill finished with 19 points, eight boards and six assists, Ingles chipped in with 18 points, Johnson added 14 and Gobert amassed his 46th double-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and one block.
“I thought they made a lot of tough shots,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of the Jazz, who shot 52.6 percent overall while nailing 14 of 21 3-pointers. “Give them credit. I thought they had better energy than us in the second half.”
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Published at Tue, 14 Mar 2017 05:20:00 +0000