PREGAME REPORT | DECEMBER 28, 2012
Tip-off: 6:00 PM | EnergySolutions Arena | Salt Lake City, UT | Game Notes »
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The Clippers know how tough it is to play the Jazz on the road at EnergySolutions Arena, especially in a back-to-back situation.
The league-best Clippers (23-6) defeated the Celtics at home on Thursday, but must turnaround and face a Utah team Friday that is 9-3 at EnergySolutions, a place known for being one of the more hostile venues in the NBA.
“It’s going to be a tough test for us,” Blake Griffin said. “It will be a true test of how we fight and how we respond. We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to start with defense and that’s going to be our mindset. As long as we keep playing hard, we’re going to make a few mistakes , but we just have to stay even keeled.”
With the possibility of their winning streak extending to 16 games, L.A. looks to take a 2-0 lead in the season series against the Jazz (15-15) before facing them again at home on Sunday.
LAST TIME OUT
Clippers 106, Boston 77: The Clippers beat the Celtics at Staples Center with the largest margin of victory over Boston in franchise history. They raced out to a 21-6 lead in the first quarter, and putting 60 points on the board by halftime, and the Celtics could not recover. Matt Barnes scored a game-high 21 points, and Jamal Crawford added 17 off the bench. Blake Griffin and Caron Butler added 15 and 14 points, respectively. Kevin Garnett posted 16 points and four boards for Boston.
“I thought it was a solid performance from a lot of guys,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “No one played extensive minutes especially with the [upcoming] back-to-back, we were able to get rest for some guys. Hopefully that will be a benefit for us [against Utah].
Warriors 94, Jazz 83: On Wednesday night the Warriors handed the Jazz their second consecutive home loss for the first time this season behind Stephen Curry’s 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. David Lee added 18 points and nine rebounds. The Jazz, who came as close as five points, largely struggled with offensive production from its starting five. Aside from Al Jefferson’s 18 points and 10 rebounds, the other four starters Marvin Williams, Paul Millsap, Randy Foye and Jamaal Tinsley combined for just 24 points on 8-for-29 shooting from the field. The Warriors took advantage in transition, outscoring Utah, 25-5, in fast-break points.
DeAndre Jordan vs. Al Jefferson. The battle of the boards will be key for the two centers, as Jefferson ranks sixth among NBA centers in rebounds per game with 10.2. In the Clippers’ 105-104 victory over the Jazz on the road on Dec. 3, the Clippers poured in a then season-high of points in the paint with 56, and will similarly look to be as aggressive in that area Friday.
TWO THINGS TO WATCH
Setting the tempo early. Though the Clippers won by one point in the teams’ last meeting, the team rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit and a 10-point deficit to start the fourth quarter. Led by solid defense late that held the Jazz to just one basket and three turnovers in the first 5:42 of the fourth quarter, the Clippers must bring this same defensive intensity for all four quarters to get the win.
Blake Griffin. In the teams’ last matchup, the forward had his highest point total of the season, scoring 30 points on 14-for-20 shooting from the field. During that game, Griffin played 37 minutes, his fourth-highest total minutes in a game this season. His season high is 39 minutes.
Mo Williams, who played 74 games with the Clippers in the 2011-12 season and averaged 13.2 points, 3.1 assists and 1.9 rebounds, will not play due to a right thumb injury that he suffered Dec. 22 against the Heat… The Clippers have not won three consecutive games in Utah since three wins between 1979 and 1980…The Clippers have a point-differential of +16.3 during their 15-game winning streak.
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