LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gordon Hayward scored 27 points, Utah controlled the paint, and the Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers 96-92 on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Hayward returned after missing most of Utah’s win in Game 4 because of food poisoning that caused him to lose weight and energy.
Chris Paul’s 3-pointer drew the Clippers within two with 5 seconds left. After George Hill hit two free throws, Paul struggled getting the ball under control near the sideline and couldn’t do anything as time expired.
The Jazz made five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including three by Rodney Hood, who finished with 16 points.
Paul led the Clippers with 28 points and J.J. Redick added 26 with injured star Blake Griffin watching from the bench, his right foot encased in a black walking boot.
The Jazz can clinch the series with a victory in Game 6 on Friday night in Salt Lake City.
The Clippers rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the fourth to tie the game. They made 12 of 15 free throws in the final period, but never managed to take the lead.
Paul and Hayward were called for double technical fouls with 40 seconds to go. Paul had already pushed Hayward in the back after they got tied up scrambling for a rebound in front of Utah’s bench. Hayward made both shots for a 90-85 lead.
Joe Johnson’s step back jumper extended Utah’s lead to 92-87.
Neither team shot well, but the Jazz were better at most everything else. They owned a 34-28 edge in the paint, and the team that has done so has won each of the first five games in the best-of-7 series.
Utah outscored the Clippers on second-chance and fast-break baskets.
Utah took the game’s first double-digit lead early in the fourth on a 3-pointer by Hood that made it 69-58.
The Clippers clawed back with an 11-0 run featuring five straight free throws by Redick and two consecutive 3-pointers from Paul that tied the game at 69-all.
Suddenly, the quiet crowd was on its feet cheering and Utah called time out.
The Jazz regrouped to take a 77-69 lead. They ran off eight straight, capped by Haywood’s 3-pointer after the Clippers’ defense shut down Hill inside and forced him to pass out to the perimeter with the shot clock winding down.
Jazz: Neither team has won by more than eight points so far in the series.
Clippers: Griffin’s injured big right toe needs further evaluation before it’s decided whether he’ll require surgery. … G Austin Rivers played 17 minutes in his return from a strained left hamstring. He was 0 of 4 and had two points. … They fell to 1-11 all-time in Game 5 of a playoff series that was tied 2-2.
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