Blake Griffin’s frustration level rose late in the third quarter even as his shots continued to fall.
It was as if the Clippers forward and teammate Chris Paul were going two-on-five against the Utah Jazz, so negligible were the contributions from the players around them.
Griffin hopped in fury after another in a series of empty possessions and struggled to catch his breath the next time the Clippers had the ball, the sweat dripping off him onto the court.
The Clippers were feeling the heat again after a 102-91 loss Wednesday night at Staples Center ended their 13-game winning streak against the Jazz and sent them back under .500 for the second time this season.
Griffin finished with 40 points on 18-for-24 shooting to go with 12 rebounds, and it wasn’t nearly enough on a night the Clippers’ starters other than Griffin and Paul combined to make four of 15 shots. The no-shows came only 24 hours after all five starters had scored in double figures against the Denver Nuggets.
The Clippers (7-8) gave up 23 second-chance points and missed their first seven three-pointers, their first conversion not coming until J.J. Redick’s 23-footer from the corner with 8 minutes 1 seconds left in the fourth quarter. They finished the game making four of 12 shots from long range.
Paul had 24 points and eight assists but it couldn’t satisfy an early departing crowd that booed the Clippers on their home court for a second consecutive game.
“This is just not right,” Paul said. “It’s not fair to our fans. We’re better than this. We have never been like this, so we have to fix it.”
It was not the way the Clippers wanted to start a six-game homestand that will involve five teams that entered Wednesday with losing records.
Of course, the Clippers fall into that category themselves after having lost eight of their last 11 games.
Utah’s Gordon Hayward was nearly as unstoppable as Griffin, collecting 33 points on 11-for-22 shooting to help the Jazz beat the Clippers for the first time since Jan. 17, 2012. Power forward Derrick Favors added 22 points for Utah, which became the latest team to outrebound the Clippers this season after holding a 39-35 advantage in that department.
“At some point, you just say basically the hell with the Xs and O’s,” Paul said. “You just have to buckle down and do it. All of us, we have to start playing basketball.”
Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) tries to block a shot by Jazz forward Derrick Favors, who managed to score on the play in the fourth quarter.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers point guard Chris Paul and Blake Griffin react as they fall behind the Jass by 15 points in the fourth quarter Wednesday night.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) fouls Clippers point guard Chris Paul in the first half on Wednesday night.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers forward Blake Griffin pulls down a defensive rebound against the Utah Jazz during a Nov. 25 game at Staples Center.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan dunks over Jazz forward Derrick Favors, left, and center Rudy Gobert during the first half.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) drives to the basket against Jazz center Rudy Gobert in the first half.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is hit in the face by Jazz forward Trevor Booker during the first half.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Clippers forward Blake Griffin tries to block a shot by Jazz forward Derrick Favors during the first half.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) and Jazz guard Raul Neto reach for a loose ball in the first half.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has the ball knocked from his grasp by Jazz forward Chris Johnson during the first half.(Harry How / Getty Images)
The Clippers committed 19 turnovers and were so out of sync that Griffin and DeAndre Jordan had trouble connecting on two fourth-quarter lobs as they tried to spark a comeback from deficits as large as 17 points. Josh Smith played the final three minutes in place of Jordan, who had eight points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
Griffin shook his head as he walked off the court in the final minute and slapped hands with Clippers Coach Doc Rivers. “I just don’t like where we’re at right now and clearly I haven’t put my finger on it,” Rivers said of his team’s struggles. “We’re just too inconsistent.”
The Clippers couldn’t even enjoy a Vine-worthy play in the second quarter when Paul sent Rudy Gobert sliding backward on his rear with a crossover dribble before making a 15-foot step-back jumper. It didn’t matter considering Redick and Wesley Johnson combined for three points.
“We’ve got to put guys in better positions to score and the biggest thing we’ve got to do is defend,” Paul said. “I do know that we have time. I know that for a fact.”