NBA: L.A. Clippers ruin Utah's perfect home record
The Utah Jazz are no longer perfect at home.
The irony of the night, however, was that for much of Monday's 105-104 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, they were.
But in the final 12, torturous minutes, the Jazz undid all the good they did in the first 36. Defensive confusion left the Jazz pointing fingers on several plays in which Chris Paul got to the basket and several calls by referees left players speechless in postgame interviews, electing to stay quiet, rather than invite fines from the NBA.
"They won the game," Al Jefferson said. "That's all I can say."
After shooting 61.4 percent through three quarters and leading by as many as 14 points, the Jazz were held to just 41.2 percent shooting in the fourth. They were outscored 32-11 in the final period.
"They made big plays and they made big shots down the stretch," Gordon Hayward said, "and we went down to the other end and didn't execute."
The Jazz (9-10) fell to 6-1 at home and, more importantly, dipped under .500 overall. They have lost three in a row, and continue to play without two of their key players. Marvin Williams missed his third game with concussion-like systems despite shooting around with the Jazz on Monday morning. Derrick Favors, meanwhile, missed his second straight game with plantar fasciitis.
Entering the fourth quarter the Jazz seemed in firm control. They led 83-73 and had survived numerous runs from the Clippers.
"I thought we weathered the storm there," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They made a couple runs at us but we were in good shape."
However, with a Utah lineup including Alec Burks and little-used forward Jeremy Evans on the floor, the Clippers went on a 9-2 run.
The damage was done.
They took their first lead at 91-90 on a dunk by Blake Griffin, who led all scorers with 30 points. The former Rookie of the Year, Griffin was the biggest factor for the Clippers in the first three quarters. He finished 14-of-20 from the field, and grabbed 11 rebounds.
In the fourth quarter, Griffin gave way to veteran guards Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Jamal Crawford.
After the Jazz went up 99-97 on a 3-pointer from Mo Williams, who led the Jazz with 20 points, Billups baited Williams into a foul on a 3-pointer. Replays showed that Billups stuck his leg out, catching Williams as his former teammate twisted to avoid the foul.
Despite the questionable nature of the call which Williams initially declined to address with the media Billups made 2 of 3 free throws on the play to once again tie the game.
Crawford scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and finished 20 off the bench.
With the Jazz down 101-99, DeAndre Jordan blocked Al Jefferson's soft shot in the lane.
"If I would have seen him I probably wouldn't have gone up with the shot like that," Jefferson said. "He made a heck of a defensive play."
After the Clippers went up 4, the Jazz cut the deficit to 1 on a 3-pointer by Randy Foye with 1.2 seconds left. The Clippers threw a bad inbound pass, which Foye corralled. He was, however, unable to get the potentially game-winning shot off in time.
"I tried to line it up a little bit," Foye said, "but I should have just shot it."
After struggling to a 3-9 start on the road, the Jazz had relied on home games to give them a boost. Now, they don't even have that.
So the Jazz will regroup. Asked how long it takes him to get the taste of a bad loss out of his mouth, Jefferson said, "As soon as I get done talking to the media."
Mo Williams' approach was more organic.
"I'll go home," he said, "and have dinner with my wife. We'll watch a movie, and it will be all right."
Storylines Coming up short
R The Jazz fall to 9-10 overall.
• Mo Williams leads five Jazz players in double figures with 20 points. Randy Foye scores 19, while Gordon Hayward adds 17 off the bench.
• The Jazz host Orlando on Wedneday.