Utah Jazz lose to Los Angeles Clippers again (and again and again)

Published: Monday, Dec. 31 2012 12:15 a.m. MST

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, left, struggles for the ball with Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday. L.A. won 107-96.

Mark J. Terrill, AP

LOS ANGELES — Go ahead and put three asterisks on the Los Angeles Clippers' 17-game winning streak***.

*Victim 3: Utah Jazz.

*Victim 16: Utah Jazz.

*Victim 17: Utah Jazz.

For the third time in their franchise-best victory spurt — and the second time in a weekend — the Clippers beat the Jazz on Sunday night at Staples Center.

"They're a good team. They're playing very well right now," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They're confident. They've got everything going for them."

Including three wins over the Jazz in December.

The only good news for Utah after this 107-96 loss?

The Jazz don't have to play the crazy-hot Clippers again until Feb. 23 in Los Angeles.

Unlike the previous two December defeats to the Clippers, this one wasn't a last-second nail-biter.

Though it ended up a double-digit victory — as 12 of the Clips' 17 wins have been — it was the Jazz who posted a nice rally to make this competitive in the second half.

The Jazz erased a 12-point deficit and snatched a one-point lead late in the third quarter when Al Jefferson capped a 12-2 run with a go-ahead basket during his 30-point effort.

Utah managed to hang around with the Clippers, only trailing by five points in the final four minutes. But, perhaps inspired by Hulk Hogan's "Flex Cam" video-screen promotion, this L.A. team flexed its NBA-leading muscles down the stretch.

Matt Barnes hit a dagger from beyond the arc with 3:13 remaining, and the Jazz only scored six points in the final 3:38.

In doing so, the Clippers (25-6) handed the Jazz (15-17) their seventh setback in nine games while adding another win to the longest winning streak in the NBA in the past five seasons.

Not only that, but the squad that used to be referred to as L.A.'s JV team joined the 1971-72 Lakers and the 1995-96 Spurs as the only teams to go 16-0 in a month. While rolling to the league's longest win streak in five seasons, the Clippers haven’t lost since falling in New Orleans on Nov. 28.

"I am just proud of the guys. It's been a great month for us," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Usually when we win, we jump up and down once or twice in the locker room. But tonight we got to jump up and down about three or four times, so everyone had their fill."

At least once per victory over the Jazz.

"It's frustrating when all three games we had opportunity, a chance, to win," said Jazz point guard Jamaal Tinsley, who had 11 assists but was frustrated over his five turnovers. "Not playing the game all the way through for 48 minutes, playing a good team, is not acceptable."

The Jazz couldn't even take advantage of a seven-point, seven-rebound outing by Blake Griffin.

That subpar showing by Captain KIA was overshadowed by the sensational shooting by Caron Butler, who scored 29 points on 10-for-14 shooting. The small forward went 6 for 6 from 3-point range, including hitting all five treys during a 17-point first quarter.

"He's a guy when he gets his rhythm going, he's a rhythm shooter," Corbin said. "He got a couple of good looks and he was able to make some shots early."

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