Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points, Rudy Gobert had 23 points and 20 rebounds, and the Utah Jazz rolled past the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers 114-96 on Wednesday night for their ninth consecutive victory. Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points for the NBA-leading Jazz, who improved to 24-5 with their 20th win in 21 games. After three tight quarters, Utah broke it open in the fourth to win this matchup of Western Conference powerhouses, although it was not a proper showdown with the Clippers missing injured superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
”I think it really started from the defensive end, our physicality,” Gobert said. ”They were really aggressive in the first half. They were just playing harder than us. Regardless of who we play, we can’t really let that happen if we’re going to be the team we want to be. In the second half, we became more aggressive and we got better shots.”
After a rough first half that didn’t resemble Utah’s impressive recent play, the Jazz opened up a tight game with a 14-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters, followed by a 16-3 run to put it away.
”(Gobert) was the aggressor on defense, on the boards, everywhere,” Mitchell said. ”That’s something that really set the tone. He did that from the jump. That’s the Rudy we need every day, and he’s been doing that.”
Lou Williams scored 16 points and Reggie Jackson added 15 for the Clippers, whose four-game winning streak ended. The Clippers were profoundly disadvantaged in this heavyweight matchup: Leonard missed his third straight game with a bruised leg, and George missed his seventh straight with an injured toe. Nicolas Batum also sat out with a concussion, leaving LA without three regular starters.
”I can’t fault our effort and our competing, (but) it’s just one of those games where they played well enough to beat us, especially in the fourth quarter when they got it going,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. ”That’s why they’re the best in the league defensively, because of the way they make you play.”
The Clips fell to 3-2 this season when playing without both Leonard and George. The Jazz played without Mike Conley, who had hamstring tightness.
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