It was only the first stop of an eight-game, 7,399-mile trip, and already the Clippers appeared completely drained.
They couldn’t sustain any offensive rhythm. Shooting guard J.J. Redick could only watch from the bench because of back spasms. Even more painful was the Clippers’ tendency to play at the preferred plodding pace of the lowly Utah Jazz.
The Clippers finally put a stop to the madness by getting stops in the final minutes of a 94-89 victory Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena, stretching their winning streak to six games.
They held the Jazz to 17 points in the fourth quarter, including only four points in the final 4 minutes 21 seconds.
“It’s what we couldn’t do earlier in the year that we can do now,” Coach Doc Rivers said. “Even if we’re struggling, we believe we can get stops.”
Utah began the fourth quarter with a four-point lead but made only six of 24 shots over the final 12 minutes, missing all nine of its three-point shots. The Clippers effectively trapped forward Gordon Hayward, who missed all four of his shots in the fourth quarter.
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had two blocks and forward Matt Barnes had one against Enes Kanter over the final 84 seconds to seal a four-game season sweep of the Jazz.
It was almost as if the Clippers were suddenly reading from a familiar script.
“We’ve been in these situations so much that down the stretch we know who we’re going to go to and how we’re going to play,” said point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 21 points and six assists.
The Clippers also received a big boost from forward Blake Griffin, who scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, and Jamal Crawford, who scored 21 points while taking Redick’s spot in the starting lineup.
Backup point guard Austin Rivers easily played his best game as a Clipper, his 12 points on five-for-eight shooting accounting for all of the team’s bench scoring. His big outburst came after some encouragement from one of his teammates.
“C.P. grabbed him during this game and said, ‘Hey, listen, you can get to the basket,’ ” Doc Rivers said, referring to his son. “ ‘We need you to attack’ and he listened.”
Kanter finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, which has lost 13 consecutive games against the Clippers.
Doc Rivers didn’t learn that Redick was unavailable until shortly before the game. Rivers said Redick took a jarring hit late in the Clippers’ game against Denver on Monday.
“It’s almost like a whiplash effect that he’s going through,” Rivers said of Redick. “It’s neck, back, it’s everything.”
The Clippers didn’t immediately decide on a replacement, with three question marks listed at shooting guard on the starting lineups released before the game.
The Clippers then seemed questionable for the first 31/2 quarters, appearing sluggish until closing with a flourish. Griffin tipped in his own missed shot to end an 85-85 deadlock before Paul stole a pass from Joe Ingles, leading to a foul on Griffin that resulted in him making one of two free throws.
The Jazz never got any closer during a game that had long looked like it was theirs for the taking.
The Clippers appeared rejuvenated as they ran off the court after the buzzer, with reserve forward Glen Davis playfully tugging at the collar of his shirt and a wide smile splitting his face.
“Like Pop says,” Austin Rivers said, “sometimes ugly wins like that are the best wins because it just shows your toughness as a team.”
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