Clippers finally salt one away, 107-105
Reporting from Salt Lake City — Stop that beat.
The Clippers have finally won a game here, finally walking away with a smile instead of a frown, escaping with a 107-105 victory over the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutons Arena on Wednesday night.
With Chris Paul playing the role of conductor, Blake Griffin providing the power, Mo Williams being the supersub and the team making free throws down the stretch, the Clippers won a game in Salt Lake City for the first time since Jan. 22, 2003.
They had lost 16 in row here, including last month’s 108-79 spanking.
“It is tough to win here. We know that,” Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. “And they are playing very well, but we were able to make enough plays.”
Paul (strained left hamstring) and Williams (sore right foot) didn’t play in the last game here.
This time they did, and both came up big for the Clippers.
Paul had a season-high 34 points to go along with 11 assists. During one stretch in the fourth quarter, Paul scored eight consecutive points for the Clippers.
Griffin had 31 points, 14 rebounds, three blocked shots and a big-time defensive play.
Williams came off the bench to score 19 points.
“Chris controlled the game,” Del Negro said. “Mo made plays. Everyone did.”
The Clippers were 18 for 23 from the free throw line, another sign of how well they played. That included 13 out of 15 in the tense fourth quarter.
“I thought we managed the game well,” Del Negro said, “especially by making our free throws.”
Griffin picked up his fifth foul with 5:54 left in the fourth on a reach-in while defending Paul Millsap, but the 6-10 forward still played good defense.
With the Clippers clinging to a 94-92 lead, Griffin stepped up on defense, taking a charge along the baseline against the bullish Millsap.
That gave the Clippers with the ball with 1:28 to play, and Del Negro called a timeout to set up a play.
Paul struck again, scoring on a jump shot from straightaway for a 96-92 Clippers lead with 1:06 left.
After Al Jefferson (27 points) made two free throws and Paul missed a shot on the Clippers’ next possession, Williams outhustled everyone for the offensive rebound, getting fouled in the process.
Williams made both free throws for a 98-94 lead with 30.7 seconds left.
Jefferson scored to cut the lead to two, but then made a horrible play on defense.
With Griffin charging in on a two-on-one break, Jefferson tried to wrap him up, but instead committed a weak foul as Griffin scored.
Griffin made the free throw to complete the three-point play for a 101-96 Clippers lead that just held up.
“Overall, guys just gutted it out and found a way to win,” Del Negro said after his team improved to 3-4 on the road and extended its winning streak to four.
The tough week began with the Clippers winning at Denver on Sunday, defeating an Oklahoma City Thunder team with the best record in the league Monday and beat a Jazz team that now is 10-4 at home.
And it doesn’t stop for the Clippers, who host the Nuggets on Thursday night in another nationally televised game at Staples Center.
The Clippers hope they have Caron Butler back after he missed the game against the Jazz because of a sore lower back.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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