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Clippers Can Do No Wrong, Rout Utah, 116-106

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Times Staff Writer

All you needed to know about how dominating the Clippers were in Monday night’s 116-106 win over the Utah Jazz at the Sports Arena was that Jay Murphy, always a fixture on the end of the Clipper bench, made an appearance late in the third quarter .

It was at about that time when Utah Coach Frank Layden conceded defeat. Layden walked to the scorer’s table and said: “Let’s stop this game. Give them the game ball.”

Despite Layden’s amusing suggestion, they did play the final quarter, even though everyone in the crowd of 7,577 knew the Jazz had called it a night. The Clippers started celebrating their second straight win after seven straight losses a little early, letting Utah make what was a 20-point margin a little more respectable. This was a game in which the Clippers could do almost nothing wrong and Utah almost nothing right.

But after snapping the losing streak Saturday night in Denver, the unpredictable Clippers (16-21) now seem to be playing like the team that won six straight games at one point last month.

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During a one-minute stretch in the third quarter, the Clippers put on a fast-break exhibition usually seen only in Inglewood. With 8:23 left, Marques Johnson took a lob pass in midair from Derek Smith and jammed it. After a Utah miss, Smith took a lob pass from Johnson for a dunk. Then, Smith scored a another fast-break layup, this time off a Norm Nixon pass.

It wasn’t long before Clipper Coach Jim Lynam inserted Murphy, and Layden made his plea to the scorer to stop the game.

By the end of the game, the Clippers had placed six players in double figures. Johnson led the attack with 21 points, while Smith had 19 and reserve center James Donaldson 15. Starting center Bill Walton had 13 points--and started may fast breaks by grabbing 15 rebounds--while Junior Bridgeman had 12 and Norm Nixon 11.

Nixon had a particularly productive game after missing Saturday’s win over Denver with a sprained right ankle. He had 10 assists Monday night and was only slightly slowed by the injury.

The Jazz seemed only to be plagued by fatigued after beating Houston in Salt Lake City Sunday night. They received 22 points from Adrian Dantley, 18 from Jeff Wilkins and 16 from Thurl Bailey. But 7-5 center Mark Eaton, the NBA’s leading shot blocker, played staringly because of foul trouble and fouled out with 6:58 left. He scored only three points.

In the first half, the Clippers didn’t play at all like a team that just recently broke a seven-game losing streak. They dominated the Jazz, building an 18-point lead at one point before settling for a 58-45 edge at half time.

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Smith perhaps set the tone 11 seconds into the game when he grabbed a Walton lob pass and slammed it. Smith had another dunk and made a jumper during that stretch, while Walton had a dunk, a basket off an offensive rebound and two free throws as the Clippers raced to a 15-8 lead before Layden could call time out.

Two subsequent Utah timeouts did little to slow the Clippers in the first quarter. The closet the Jazz could pull was 10 points and the Clippers finished the period with a 33-19 margin.

The Clippers started fast in the second quarter, too. Before Layden could call another timeout with 9:32 left, the Clippers had stretched the lead to 18 points (39-21) after two Bridgeman jump shots and a layup by Rory White.

Once again, the Jazz could get no closer than 11 points (46-35) with 4:01 left. From that point, though, the Clippers snatched control away again. They had a 16-point lead with 10 seconds left but the Jazz was able to slash it to 13 on a layup by Rickey Green with four seconds left and a steal and layup by Dantley two seconds later.

Clipper Notes Before Monday night’s game, the Clippers announced that they had averaged 12,311 fans over the last three games, raising their season attendance average to 9,139. . . . Asked about Coach Jim Lynam’s status before Saturday night’s win at Denver, General Manager Carl Scheer said: “Nothing’s forever, but I’m not going to make a coaching change just to shake things up. But we have to do some evaluating with our coaches and players. I’m extremely pleased with Jimmy’s approach to the game this season, but I’m not happy with the results.” . . . The Clippers have three days off before beginning a three-game trip at Phoenix Friday night. The next home game will be Jan. 16 against Houston. . . . Junior Bridgeman’s nine-point performance Saturday night in Denver was the first time since Nov. 30 that he failed to score in double figures. . . . The Clippers are switching radio stations, going from KIEV (870) to KHJ (930). Monday night’s game was carried by KIEV, but the Clippers’ game at Phoenix will be carried by KHJ. A team spokesman said Monday that the Clippers are making the switch because KHJ is a more powerful station.

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