NBA: Jazz fight back but lose again to Clippers
Los Angeles • The Jazz tried a different approach Sunday.
However, playing from behind is no way to beat the Clippers, either.
The Jazz (15-17) fell victim to the team with the NBA's best record for the third time in the Clippers' winning streak, which they stretched to 17 on Sunday with a 107-96 win over the Jazz in front of 19,111 at Staples Center.
The Jazz blew double digit leads in losses to L.A. on Dec. 3 and again on Friday, when they lost 116-114 after leading by 19 points in the third quarter. On Sunday, in a twist, the Jazz overcame a 12-point third-quarter hole, taking a 76-75 lead with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
Al Jefferson scored 30 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, but he was one of only four Jazz players to score in double figures as the team continues to miss Mo Williams' scoring.
Randy Foye scored 10 points, and made two 3-pointers, but it was the starting shooting guard's least productive game against his former team. In fact, it was Gordon Hayward, in 27 minutes off the bench, who performed the best of any member of the Jazz backcourt.
He scored 17 points, including 6 that were timely during the Jazz's third-quarter comeback.
The Jazz get credit for once again playing the Clippers (25-6) closely, this time doing it without either Mo Williams, who missed his fourth game with a sprained right thumb, and Marvin Williams, who sat out with inflammation in his right knee.
However, the Jazz are beyond the moral victories phase of their season. They have lost seven of their last nine games, and 6-13 on the road.
What ails the Jazz? Injuries, sure, but also an offensive black hole that has been problematic throughout the season.
"We're not making the shots that we're getting," coach Tyrone Corbin said last week. "I think we're getting good looks. We're just not making them, and it's not one or two guys, it's as a group with this group of guys right now. We'll work on it and continue to take the right shots, and they'll fall."
However, nothing the Jazz have done has worked. Not against the Clippers and certainly not in earlier losses to Memphis, Miami, Indianapolis and, well, others.
On Sunday the biggest villain was yet another Clipper. After All-Stars Blake Grifin and Chris Paul led the Clippers in earlier wins, on Sunday it was veteran small forward Caron Butler.
Butler scored 29 points and made each of his six 3-point attempts. The small forward did most of his damage in the first quarter when he scored 17 points and made his first 5 3-pointers.
The Jazz, who jumped out to a 13-10 lead, quickly fell behind 22-13. In some ways, the Jazz were fortunate to trail only 54-45 at halftime.
In the second quarter, they made just seven field goals for a 26.9 field goal percentage. Meanwhile, the Clippers were on fire, making an efficient 11-of-16 shots from the field. The Jazz finished at 41.3 percent for the game.
The Jazz took the lead on a 17-4 run in the third quarter, but the Clippers responded with an 8-2 run to regain control.
The Jazz stayed close, cutting the lead to 5 on a 3-pointer by DeMarre Carroll with 3:38 remaining.
Carroll started in place of Williams and scored 6 points to complement 8 rebounds. Carroll had played just nine minutes in the Jazz's last three games, and struggled defensively against Butler, his primary matchup in a season-high 25 minutes.
Twitter: @tribjazz • The Jazz overcome a 12-point deficit to lead in the third quarter, but can't stay ahead of the red-hot Clippers.
• The Clippers have won 17 straight games, including three against the Jazz.
• Al Jefferson scores 30 points and grabs 8 rebounds to lead the Jazz.