LOS ANGELES — It used to be there wasn’t more of a gimme game on the Utah Jazz schedule every year than whenever the team played the Los Angeles Clippers.
Over a 10-season span from 1994 to 2004, the Jazz beat the Clippers 33 out of 40 times, including 15 in a row between 1999 and 2002.
My, how the tide has turned.
The Jazz came into Saturday night’s game with the Clippers on a six-game losing streak that stretches back two seasons, with their last win coming in late 2010.
“They’re a really tough opponent, especially on their home floor,’’ said Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin of the Clippers, who rely on Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
The Jazz lost the final two games of the 2011-12 season and all four games last year.
In case you were wondering, the Jazz lead the series with the Clippers 81-35 since the Jazz moved to Utah and the Clippers to L.A. The all-time record between the two franchises is 98-65, counting when the Jazz were in New Orleans and when the Clippers were in San Diego and Buffalo, where they were known as the Braves.
ROAD WARRIORS: No team in the NBA has played more road games this year than the Utah Jazz. Saturday’s game was their 19th so far this season. That means things should be looking up for them with more home games from here on out.
Except that the Jazz have actually played better on the road, with five victories in 18 tries compared to four wins at home in 13 games.
Asked why his team has won more road games than home games this year, Corbin laughed and said it was because his team had played more road games.
Then he added: “We’re understanding and figuring out who we are and how we have to play to be effective on the road. In the past our home was a huge advantage for us and now we’re trying to figure out who we are and the focus has to be greater on the road and the guys are doing a better job now.’’
So which NBA team has played the second-most road games this year? It happens to be Utah’s Saturday opponent, the Clippers, who have played 17 road games this year compared to 13 home games.
ALWAYS READY: After not playing a single minute in seven games over a three-week period earlier this month, John Lucas III has suddenly been seeing a lot of time as the backup point guard behind rookie Trey Burke. Lucas averaged 15 minutes over the Jazz's four games before Saturday.
The 31-year-old never complained when Diante Garrett got the backup minutes in his stead and is happy for any time he gets now. Lucas was the first sub for the Jazz Saturday night, replacing Burke at the 5:21 mark of the first quarter.
“I’m always locked in and constantly watching the game even when I’m not playing,’’ said Lucas. “One thing I’ve learned is you never know when your number is going to be called. And you always have to be ready. I’m going to come in when the opportunity is there and perform like I’ve been doing.’’
JAZZ NOTES: The Jazz and Clippers will play again on Feb. 1 in L.A. and at Utah on March 14. ... Before Saturday night, the Clippers had not lost three games in a row this season. ... The Jazz lost to the Clippers twice in the preseason — 106-74 in Salt Lake City and 103-99 in L.A.. ... Derrick Favors has 10 double-doubles this year, including one Friday against the Lakers when he had 18 points and 14 rebounds and made the game-winning basket with two seconds left. ... Gordon Hayward averaged 18.3 points and 5.3 rebounds off the bench for the Jazz against the Clippers last year. ... L.A.’s starting guard J.J. Reddick broke a bone in his hand on Dec. 1 and is expected to be out six to eight weeks. Willie Green took his place in the starting lineup for seven games but was replaced by Jamal Crawford for the past eight games. ... Former Jazz backup point guard Howard Eisley is a Clipper assistant coach for player development.
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