LOS ANGELES (AP) — Despite playing their 10th game in 16 nights, the Los Angeles Clippers were able to shrug off a sluggish start and find enough energy to pull away from the Jazz.
Jamal Crawford scored 27 points off the bench, Blake Griffin had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and the defending Pacific Division champions used a decisive third-quarter rally to beat Utah 102-87 Saturday night.
"We came out flat in the first half," center DeAndre Jordan said. "But we get our energy from the crowd here. And once we got over that hump tonight, we were OK. Our defense kept the game close, and in the second half we got our legs back and had more of a feeling for the game."
Jordan maintained his aggressiveness and defensive intensity during the rest of his foul-plagued 35 minutes, finishing with 14 rebounds and 10 points.
"That's an area of growth, in my opinion," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Him and Blake — we noticed early in the year that if they got early fouls, they were more concerned about not fouling, which creates more trouble. But tonight, I think there were 4 or 5 minutes left in the game and somebody drove against D.J. Then D.J. jumps up, blocks the basket — and no foul because he got his hands up. That wouldn't have happened a month ago. That would have been a dunk by that guy. And that's terrific."
The Clippers are 19-7 since Dec. 14 and 11-4 since All-Star point guard Chris Paul separated his right shoulder. They still lead second-place Phoenix by 3½ games in the division following the Suns' victory over Charlotte.
Enes Kanter led Utah with 23 points and 14 boards, while teammates Derrick Favors and Jeremy Evans sat out with injuries. Favors has inflammation in his right hip, and Evans has a bruised tailbone and right elbow.
The Jazz lost the second game of a back-to-back set for the 10th time in 13 tries this season, one night after holding an emotional halftime tribute to Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan in Salt Lake City, complete with a banner depicting his win total in 23 years with the club and appearances by Karl Malone and John Stockton.
The Clippers turned a three-point deficit into a 73-61 lead with an 18-3 run highlighted by Griffin's reverse alley-oop dunk off a lob from Crawford with 2:43 left in the third quarter.
"We got some stops, got some good ball pressure defensively and forced them to take some tough shots in the open court," Griffin said. "DeAndre, he does a lot for us — controlling the paint, rebounding, things like that. But I think it's kind of a team thing. And when everybody's on the same page like we were at the end of the third quarter, we're a much better team."