SALT LAKE CITY — Wednesday's blowout loss shocked the Utah Jazz.
Friday night's setback simply stung.
Two nights after getting blown off their home court by the Golden State Warriors, the Jazz played immensely better but blew a 19-point, second-half lead in a heartbreaking 116-114 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
"Real tough one," Jazz point guard Jamaal Tinsley said. "We just didn't finish the game out."
Randy Foye seemed visibly shaken in his locker while trying to swallow the Jazz's second last-second loss in a month to his former team, which improved to an NBA-best 24-6 with its 16th straight victory.
Despite outplaying the Clippers for most of the night, the Jazz fell to 15-16 after losing their third consecutive home game and suffering their sixth setback in eight outings.
"A loss is a loss. If we played bad or we played well enough to win, we still lose," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "At the end of the day, we lost the game."
Foye scored a season-high 28 points and had a chance to cap off a heroic night with the ball in his hands with time running out.
But as the Jazz shooting guard approached the 3-point line after an inbounds pass with 3.4 seconds remaining, the 6-4 Foye was approached by 6-7 Matt Barnes.
The Clipper forward leaned into Foye, who also made sure to create contact while heaving up the game-winning attempt.
The 3-pointer clanged off the rim at the buzzer, but no whistle was called — much to the loud dismay and protest of the Jazz and their sellout crowd of 19,911.
"He played good D, man," Foye said. "That's all I've got to say about that."
The guard, who'd hit 5-of-8 3-pointers before that final try, elaborated when asked about whether or not there was enough contact to warrant a foul and possible game-winning free throws.
"Yeah. I pumped fake. He knew I wanted to shoot the 3 and I felt the contact," Foye said. "I went straight up and it made me shoot the ball straight down. It just was a tough play."
That came seconds after another tough play.
With 3.4 seconds remaining, Jefferson reached in and fouled a driving Chris Paul as the speedy point guard came out of a pick-and-roll on the 3-point arc.
Paul hit both free throws — after splitting a pair 14 seconds earlier — and forced the Jazz to make something positive happen on their final possession.
"We were trying to trap and the referee called a foul," said Jefferson, whose two free throws with 17.1 seconds remaining tied the crazy game at 114-all.
"It don't matter what I think. He called it."
Big Al, who had 22 points and eight rebounds, eluded the question about whether or not he second-guessed himself on reaching in against Paul, who was 20-plus feet away from the basket with time running out.
"I reached. They called a foul," Jefferson said. "There ain't nothing we could do about it."
The Jazz found themselves trailing 29-22 after the first quarter, but a spunky effort by reserves Earl Watson, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter helped Utah outscore the Clippers 36-19 in the second quarter.
That 10-point halftime lead was then stretched to 19 four minutes into the second half when Paul Millsap hit a pair of free throws.
Even though they didn't arrive in Utah until early Friday morning after bashing Boston in Los Angeles late Thursday night, the Clippers went on a dominating run after that.
Barnes started the rally with a 3-pointer, sparking a 16-2 Clippers run. By the time the third quarter ended, Los Angeles had cut its deficit to 88-84.
"We just stayed with it," Paul said. "We walked out, I think in the third quarter, and I looked up at the clock and saw we were down 16. I was thinking to myself that we can come back, but we are going to have to work real hard. It started on the defensive end."
The Clippers tied it at 90-90 after Caron Butler hit a 3-pointer and a free throw for a four-point play after being fouled by Gordon Hayward.
The Jazz regained a five-point lead, but the combination of Blake Griffin (22 points, 13 rebounds), DeAndre Jordan (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Paul proved to be too much to handle in crunch time.
"They're a good team," Foye said. "They got to the free-throw line. They hit some shots. They got some offensive rebounds. They played well. They came back. They played like the best team in the NBA."
Despite playing without starting point guard Mo Williams (thumb injury) yet again, the Jazz busted out of their offensive slump. On this night, even a 114-outing and a big double-digit lead, however, just wasn't enough to overcome the red-hot Clippers.11 comments on this story
"It's all tough — on our home court," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We had a lead. We gave up the lead, but we continued to fight. We made some mistakes, but we fought our way through it and had a chance to win the ballgame at the end. Unfortunately, they got a lot of free throws."
NOTES: The two teams meet each other again Sunday in Los Angeles. "Hopefully, we can go into L.A. and do the same thing that they did to us," Hayward said. . The Clippers were 33 of 41 from the free-throw line; Utah went 37 of 40. Hayward (17 points) and Burks (11 points) led the Jazz's offensive charge off the bench.