LOS ANGELES — Who says the Utah Jazz need a point guard?
Playing without a true point guard for the fourth straight game, the Jazz won again, defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 129-109 Wednesday night at Staples Center.
The Jazz won their fifth straight game and seventh of their last eight as they improved to 25-21 and into a virtual tie with the Clippers, who lost their fourth straight, third straight time at home, and dropped to 24-20. The two teams are now tied for the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference.
“It was a good win,” said Utah coach Quin Snyder. “We’ve been playing pretty good defense but haven’t shot the ball as well as we want to, but tonight we shot it really well (51.2 percent).”
Once again the Jazz were missing all three of their true point guards (and they won’t have them for the next week either) as Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum and Raul Neto are all sidelined with injuries.
Before the game, Snyder smiled and said, “we have a lot of point guards,” although he doesn’t call them that.
“What we’re saying right now is primary ball handler and secondary ball handler,” he said. “You’re always going to have guys who are pure point guards, but to me it’s more about leadership. It’s about how you play. Everybody’s different and every team is different, and you try to play to your strengths.”
The Jazz's strength lately has been second-year pro Donovan Mitchell, who had still another terrific game Wednesday as he scored 28 points and dished out eight assists in the victory.
Jae Crowder broke out of his recent slump with a 23-point night on 8-of-15 shooting, including 5 of 11 from 3-point range, while Kyle Korver added 19 off the bench, including 4 of 5 from long range.
Following up on his career-tying 25-rebound night on Monday night against Detroit, Rudy Gobert grabbed 22 rebounds while scoring 23 points. Derrick Favors had 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Royce O’Neale added 10 points.
“Those are terrific numbers (by Gobert), and he and Donovan had a great connection tonight with the pick and roll,” Snyder said.
The Jazz came out strong, making eight of their first 12 shots as they burst out to a 21-15 lead. By the end of the quarter, they led 31-22 and extended the margin to 13 at 37-24 after a four-point play by Korver.
Then with a lineup that included rookie Grayson Allen and not Mitchell, the Jazz struggled and watched as the Clippers went on a 12-0 run as the Jazz failed to score on nine straight possessions. L.A. tied the game at 41, but from there, the Jazz finished the half on a 15-8 run to take a 56-49 lead.
Both Mitchell and Crowder scored 14 in the first half, and Korver added 11.7 comments on this story
Georges Niang had a highlight reel block midway through the second quarter when he chased down Patrick Beverly, who appeared to be going for an easy layup or dunk, and swatted the ball into the seats.
In the second half, the Jazz rushed out to a 72-57 lead and led 88-72 after three quarters. In the final quarter, the Clippers made a brief run, but could never get closer than 13 as the Jazz pushed the lead back to 20 and cleared the bench.
The Clippers were led by Lou Williams with 23 points off the bench, while Tobias Harris added 17.
The Jazz return home to start a four-game homestand beginning Friday night against Cleveland and former Jazzmen Rodney Hood and Alec Burks.