Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Where's Deron Williams when you need him?
Wherever the New Jersey Nets are right now is the answer, of course.
The Utah Jazz, who've fared fine without him this season, sure could have used the All-Star point guard on Wednesday night in a 107-105 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Two weeks after blowing out the Clippers with Chris Paul on the sideline injured, the Jazz got sliced and diced by elite playmaker who used to struggle mightily against D-Will.
And, no, there is no Paul-Devin Harris debate.
CP3 scored 34 points with three 3-pointers, dished out 11 assists and grabbed five rebounds for the Pacific Division-leading Clippers (13-6).
Another killer for the Clippers, who got their first win in Utah in 16 tries and since Jan. 22, 2003?
The guy you might've seen 1,000,000 times on ESPN this week.
Blake Griffin, the dynamic dunker, scored more points in the first quarter (14) than he did the entire night (10) two weeks ago when the Jazz walloped L.A. 108-79.
Griffin finished with 31 points and 14 rebounds, outplaying Paul Millsap (14 points, seven rebounds).
"It's a tough loss," Jazz swingman C.J. Miles said.
Center Al Jefferson, back from his ankle injury, led Utah (12-8) with 27 points and 12 rebounds.
The Jazz also got 16 points from Miles, who made things interesting in the final eight seconds when he drilled a 3-pointer to bring Utah within one a moment after a Millsap three.
But Chauncey Billups and Mo Williams each hit key free throws in the final seconds to clinch the rare Clipper victory at ESA.
"We put ourselves in a position to try to win the game," Miles said. "We had a couple of chances where we didn't convert and they converted."
The Jazz could have tied the game or taken the lead in the final minute, but Millsap was called for a charge against Griffin and then Miles fouled Williams when a long Clipper miss ended up in the L.A. guard's hands.
Williams' freebies with 30.7 seconds remaining gave the Clippers an important four-point advantage.
Paul and Griffin weren't the only things that hurt the Jazz's chances.
Free throws (26-for-36) and rebounds (50-35 for L.A.) killed Utah, something Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said came about because of the Clippers "outhustled" the Jazz.
Cold shooting also doomed the home team, which only made 11 of 37 shots in the second half after shooting 61.4 percent in the opening half.
"Every loss stings," Miles said, "but you hate to (lose) a game like this where you have a lot of chance(s) to win the game and know that there was things you did coming up to the end of the game that would have changed the outcome."
Nothing the Jazz tried against Paul seemed to cool off the feisty and fast 6-footer, who made 15 of 24 shots.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin even put lengthy Gordon Hayward on Paul at the end of the game to no avail.
"He did a lot for their team," Hayward said.
Added Miles: "He made tough shots. G-Time's 6-8, and he shot over (Hayward) a couple of times and he made a couple of good plays on the other guys too.."
Jefferson returned from his ankle injury in fine form, leading the Jazz with 18 points on 9-for-11 shooting and five rebounds in the first half, helping Utah take a 58-56 lead.
But the big difference between this stinging setback and the Jazz's 108-79 blowout win two weeks earlier was very visible from early on.
Paul. Paul. Paul.
The New Orleans transplant, who struggled against the bigger Williams, punished the Jazz interior defense and made Utah pay from outside as well, racking up 18 points with two 3-pointers and eight assists in the opening two quarters.
Utah held the lead for most of the second quarter thanks to a monster 19-2 run, with the Junior Jazz team (Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks) each contributing.
Both of the Jazz's main point guards were injured in the game. Harris (eight points, four assists) exited to be attended to in the training room during the game. He returned, but the Jazz's second-unit sparkplug, Earl Watson (eight assists), did not come back after crumpling onto the court late in the third with a sprained left ankle.
Watson did travel to Oakland for the Jazz's game against the Warriors. However, starting shooting guard Raja Bell, who also missed this one with a strained right adductor, did not make the trip.
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