Los Angeles • The third time was far from the charm. After two games against the Clippers in December that went down to the final seconds, the Jazz lost 107-96 at Staples Center on Dec. 30.
With the season series already lost, the Jazz hope to continue a recent hot streak against one of the best teams in the West in their fourth and final matchup with the Clippers. The teams will tip off at 8:30 p.m. Mountain.
The first key will be stopping - OK, overcoming - Chris Paul. The Jazz aren't alone in having difficulty with the All-Star Paul, but they're the ones burdened with the task tonight. It becomes especially difficult, coach Tyrone Corbin said, if it's a close game.
"He's going to have the ball in his hands with a lot of screens up top at the end of the ball game," Corbin said. "You have to give him different looks, you have to be able to keep him out of the lane. He does a good job of making plays not only for himself but for his teammates if he gets into the paint."
But the Clippers don't just start and stop with Paul, who averages 20.7 points and 8 assists in three games against the Jazz. Blake Griffin is his favorite target in the post, and was an All-Star again this year.
But the bigger issue for the Jazz? Corbin points to likely Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford.
"You can have the first group under control pretty good," Corbin said, "and he can come in and go crazy on you. This is a veteran group, they feed off of each other well, they feed off of runs, they feed off of dunks."
Hayward healthy • Gordon Hayward has talked about his right shoulder being sore after returning from missing 10 games before the All-Star break. The Jazz's top reserve clarified Saturday, saying that any pain he feels now is not entirely related to the sprain, which he suffered against the Pacers in late January.
"It's a hundred percent," he said, "but after a game it's a little sore. It's just like people's knees they'll play and after the game it's a little sore."
More events • The Jazz shot around Saturday at a downtown L.A. apartment complex due to a conflict at the Staples Center. The arena hosts more than 250 events a year and is home to the Clippers, Lakers and Los Angeles Kings. Those events are often in near-succession. The Jazz played the Lakers earlier this year in an evening game, just hours after the Clippers played a matinee. On Friday night, the Lakers beat the Blazers and at 1 p.m. Pacific the Kings will host a hockey game. Busy, busy place.
— Bill Oram
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