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SALT LAKE CITY — It'll be Lob City vs. Swat Lake City tonight at EnergySolutions Arena, when the high-flying Los Angeles Clippers and the shot-blocking Utah Jazz meet up.
"It's going to be an intriguing match-up," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said at shootaround. "They're playing very well. They're a very athletic ballclub. They're much improved from last year, and they're feeling good about themselves."
More tidbits from today's Jazz prep session for the 7 p.m. MT showdown (ROOT Sports):
Both teams will be shorthanded.
The 8-4 Jazz, winners of seven of eight, will be without key reserves Josh Howard (strained left quadriceps) and Derrick Favors (sprained left ankle).
Howard missed Sunday's game in Denver, and said he'll sport a suit on the sideline tonight on the bench. He received treatment on his quad this morning.
Favors sat out the second half Sunday after twisting his ankle on a rebound. He held out hope that he'd play tonight, but didn't pass the movement tests the training staff put him through earlier today and was ruled out.
As for the 7-3 Clippers, winners of three straight, they could be without point guards Chris Paul (strained left hamstring) and Mo Williams (sore right foot). Neither played in L.A.'s home win over New Jersey on Monday, and they're game-time decisions tonight. Eric Bledsoe (torn right lateral meniscus) is out for sure.
Corbin is still wary of the Clippers' talent, including Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan and, yes, that dude who dunks over KIAs, Blake Griffin.
"Because they've got a couple of guys out the lineup, you can't relax on them," Corbin said. "They're a really good ballclub."
The absence of Howard and Favors would likely result in more action for rookies Alec Burks and Enes Kanter along with second-year forward Jeremy Evans.
"Now may be an opportunity for guys to get more minutes on the floor," Corbin said. "So we expect everybody to continue what they've been doing — coming in ready, focused and try and help us win ballgames."
Corbin said it will take a team effort, active hands and a good job of covering the basket to keep Lob City on the ground.
"We've got to make sure we do a good job on the rotation, especially of covering the lane, making sure we've got pressure on the ball so those passes aren't very easy for them to make," Corbin explained. "They are athletic. ... They're going to drive and try and collapse the defense and then throw the ball to the rim and let one of their athletic guys go and get it."
The biggest threat the Clippers have is, of course, the reigning slam-dunk champion, Griffin. He's averaging 23.1 points and 11.4 rebounds this season.
Paul Millsap said he's looking forward to that "challenge," like he would against any other player.
"It's going to be a tough task, but I'm down for the challenge," Millsap said. "I like challenges, so I'm going to challenge myself defensively and offensively. It's (what) I do, and I love it."
Corbin admires Griffin for more than just the sensational slams, especially his "tenacity" on and above the court.
"He's really hungry to do something good, something spectacular," Corbin said. "And he feeds off those things, and he's very active. You think you've got him under control and he's standing flat-footed and the guy will throw the ball to the rim and he just springs off the floor and goes and gets it. You have to pay attention to him at all times."
The funniest part of shootaround session — aside from Fox 13's Big Buddah asking players if they'll try Burger King's new delivery option — centered around lobs.
To sum up the best parts (with more to be written later): Earl Watson hopes to hook up with Al Jefferson on an alley-oop pass one of these games, and Jeremy Evans believes he's a better leaper than Griffin.
The Jazz small forward even went outside and jumped over his Camaro after watching Griffin win the dunk contest with his soaring dunk over the KIA car last year.
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