The Jazz’s weeklong struggles continued Saturday night. On the heels of Utah's bitter loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday evening, the Los Angeles Clippers comfortably defeated the Jazz 105-96. After getting down quickly, Utah never really threatened the rest of the way en route to their third consecutive loss.
It was no surprise that the Clippers were led by their pair of All-Stars. Chris Paul orchestrated the offense in impressive fashion, to the tune of 26 points and six assists in just 31 minutes. Highlight reel player Blake Griffin posted 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists of his own.
Once again, it was Al Jefferson who led the Jazz attack with 26 points. He corralled just four rebounds, though. Paul Millsap chipped in 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists in a losing effort.
First-quarter blitz: The Jazz did not know what hit them. It did not take long for the home team Clippers to set the tone. In an extremely dominating first quarter, Los Angeles outscored the Jazz 38-22, and they never looked back. Both teams were playing the second end of a back-to-back, but the Clippers displayed great energy and effort, while the Jazz appeared to be a step short from the get-go.
Los Angeles scored most of their points thanks to some stellar perimeter shooting. When the quarter buzzer sounded, they had nailed 15 of 22 shots from the field — a 68.2 percent clip. From 3-point territory, the Clippers hit trey after trey after trey. The ended the quarter 6 of 8 from long range. While there were a few wide-open looks, L.A. also calmly hit shots with defenders draped on them.
And their torrid shooting continued right on into the second quarter.
Bench blues: Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin has been able to turn to his bench for an infusion of athleticism, energy and effort all season. Saturday night, however, the Jazz reserves struggled. While the Clippers bench was anything but overpowering, they still outscored their Utah counterparts, 24-20.
After scoring between eight and 17 points in nine of the past 10 outings, rookie guard Alec Burks had a rough go, finishing with just three points on 1-of-7 shooting. Derrick Favors followed up his 0-13 performance versus the Kings with a nondescript 1-of-3 night in Los Angeles.
The one highlight was rookie Enes Kanter, who was effective in his 11 minutes of court time. He tallied seven points and four rebounds in that time.
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- The Clippers were without veteran guards Chauncey Billups and Mo Williams, paving the way for increased playing time for Randy Foye. Foye was a catalyst all night for Vinny Del Negro, scoring 17 points to go with six assists.
- Of the 10 Los Angeles players who saw time, only three were on the roster last year — Griffin, Foye and center DeAndre Jordan. While Chris Paul was their marquee acquisition, they have also added Billups, Kenyon Martin, Caron Butler, Nick Young and Reggie Evans.
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.