Clippers edge Jazz to keep win streak alive
SALT LAKE CITY – Chris Paul’s 29 points included the decisive free throws in the waning seconds Friday as the Los Angeles Clippers rallied to beat Utah 116-114 and post a 16th straight NBA victory.
Blake Griffin scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and DeAndre Jordan also notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who trailed by 19 points in the third quarter.
Randy Foye led Utah with 28 points, but his three-point attempt in the face of heavy pressure as time expired failed to drop.
Al Jefferson scored 22 points with eight rebounds, and Gordon Hayward contributed 17 points off the bench for the Jazz, who lost for the sixth time in eight games.
Utah used a big second quarter to take a 10-point halftime lead, and the Clippers had fallen 19 adrift with 8:09 left in the third.
But a 21-5 scoring run trimmed the deficit to 79-76 with less than two minutes left in the period.
Paul drained a jump shot as the quarter ended to pull the Clippers within 88-84 going into the fourth, and Caron Butler’s four-point play for Los Angeles tied the game at 90-90 with just over nine minutes to play.
The Jazz answered with five straight points, but the Clippers held on and seized a 109-106 lead with 3:09 to play after Jordan converted a three-point play and Jamal Crawford made a lay-up.
Jefferson scored four straight points to put the Jazz back on top, but Paul made a brace of free throws to give the Clippers the lead again.
Two free throws by Jefferson saw the Jazz knot the score at 114-114 with 17.1 seconds remaining, but Jefferson fouled Paul at the other end and Paul calmly made both free throws with 3.4 seconds left.
“It was fun,” Paul said. “This was a close one, showed some grit. I think our team did a great job of staying together. When we got down 19, we could have argued and fussed, but we stayed together.”
The Clippers’ winning streak is the longest in the league since the Boston Celtics won 19 successive games in the 2008-09 season.