Jazz-Clippers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 29, 2012
By adding one more victory to their already historic winning streak, the Los Angeles Clippers can be part of an exclusive club. The Utah Jazz have other plans after giving the Clippers their toughest time during the run. The red-hot Clippers will try to become the third team in NBA history to complete a 16-0 month Sunday night when they close out December at home against the Jazz. Los Angeles (24-6) is trying to defeat the Jazz (15-16) for a second straight game after rallying from a 19-point second-half deficit in a 116-114 win Friday night in Utah. "This one is a great win for us because we kind of needed a challenge," forward Blake Griffin said. "(We had) to prove not only to everybody else but to ourselves that we can still win close games like this and win a game down 19 in the third quarter." The Clippers extended their franchise-record winning streak to 16 games, the NBA's longest since Boston won 19 in a row Nov. 15-Dec. 23, 2008. Their run began Nov. 28, and they now have a chance to join the 1995-96 Spurs and 1971-72 Lakers as the only teams to win all 16 of their games in a calendar month. Los Angeles also had a difficult time at Utah on Dec. 3, trailing by 14 points before coming away with a 105-104 win in the third game of the streak. Aside from the Jazz, no other team has lost to the Clippers by fewer than five during the run, with Los Angeles winning its 16 straight by an average of 15.5 points. It doesn't figure to get any easier for Utah at Staples Center, where the average margin has been 18.8 points in the Clippers' nine home victories during the streak. Chris Paul, who led six Los Angeles players in double figures with 29 points Friday, has averaged 25.8 points on 57.1 percent shooting during the Clippers' four-game winning streak against the Jazz. Griffin's numbers are even better in those games, with 26.8 points per contest on 66.2 percent shooting along with 11.5 rebounds. The Jazz, who have lost six of eight overall, will try to find a way to slow the Clippers after allowing their second-most points in regulation this season Friday. Los Angeles has averaged 108.3 points on 49.5 percent shooting over its last four games in the series. Utah has jumped out to a halftime lead in each of the first two meetings this season only to have the Clippers rally both times. "It's going to be another hard-fought contest on their home floor and we need a win, so we'll go out and be ready to compete," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. Ex-Clipper Randy Foye has done his best for Utah against his former team, averaging 23.5 points on 15-of-24 (62.5 percent) shooting in the two 2012-13 matchups. The Jazz are averaging 98.6 points on 44.4 percent shooting this season, but they've put up 109.0 points per game while shooting 52.4 percent - including 18 of 35 (51.4 percent) from 3-point range - versus Los Angeles. While the Clippers have limited opponents to an average of 89.1 points during their winning streak, only the Jazz have scored more than 100 points over that stretch, doing it twice. Utah, though, is expected to be without starting point guard Mo Williams for a fourth consecutive game because of swelling in his sprained right thumb.
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