Red-hot Clippers next for Utah Jazz
Since a last-second win over San Antonio on Dec. 12 pushed them three games over .500, the Jazz have played more like a lottery team than a playoff contender.
They have lost five of their past seven games and have fallen to 15-15 on the season.
In the process, they haven't scored more than 97 points and have failed to reach 90 five times.
The bad news?
Utah must break out of its funk against the Los Angeles Clippers, who have a 15-game winning streak after Thursday night's win against Boston.
The Jazz play the Clippers on Friday night, and the teams play again Sunday at Staples Center.
"They're a good team playing very well at home and away," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "... They feel really good about the way they're playing, obviously, and it's going to be a challenge. They've beaten a lot of good teams on this run."
The Clippers defeated the Jazz 105-104 at EnergySolutions Arena on Dec. 3. Blake Griffin scored 30 points, but Chris Paul carried L.A. down the stretch.
Said Corbin: "We have to understand who we're playing, how they're playing, what we need to take away from certain guys and make sure we handle Chris Paul in the pick-and-roll."
The Clippers likely will test the Jazz with a zone defense, given Golden State's success with it during a 94-83 win over Utah on Wednesday night.
The Jazz shot 38.6 percent and made only 4 of 17 3-pointers. They were 0 for 9 in the second half.
Al Jefferson scored 18 points, but after back-to-back baskets at the rim on the Jazz's first two possessions, he didn't get many open looks.
"We just have to work on it," Jefferson said. "That zone defense, I didn't think it was going to be that tough. But for some reason, we couldn't find our way to score. ...
"You always think teams that play zone are ones that can't play defense man-to-man defense. But they played it well, and we couldn't get going."
Corbin said he will likely stick with a starting lineup of Jamaal Tinsley, Randy Foye, Paul Millsap, Marvin Williams and Jefferson against the Clippers. Said Corbin: "We are who we are right now. This is who we are. We have capable guys here." ... Former Jazz center Mark Eaton attended practice Thursday morning and said he was there to work with second-year big man Enes Kanter. Eaton is friends with Utah assistant Mike Sanders. ... In the loss to Golden State, the Jazz trailed by as many as 22 points. "That was embarrassing," Jefferson said. ... Asked about playing the Clippers, Jefferson said, "They're in a good groove right now. Hopefully we can find a groove."
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