SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — In a tight race to secure playoff spots in the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz earned a valuable tiebreaker.
Utah rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 111-105 on Wednesday night. The victory gave the Jazz their second win over Los Angeles, and Utah clinched the season series and earned a playoff tiebreaker over the Clippers.
“That’s a big win for us,” Derrick Favors said. “Everybody is so close in the standings. We need every win that we can get.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points to lead the Jazz, and Rudy Gobert added 20 points and 13 rebounds. Favors and Ricky Rubio chipped in 13 points apiece and Favors also collected 11 rebounds.
Utah won its fourth straight home game by overcoming early shooting struggles and clamping down on defense at critical junctures. The Jazz shot just 41 percent from the field but limited the Clippers to 39 percent shooting.
“We just went dry,” Lou Williams said. “We missed a lot of opportunities that we usually will make, shots that we can usually make with our eyes closed.”
Williams and Danilo Gallinari scored 18 points each to lead Los Angeles, and Montrezl Harrell added 16. The Clippers lost despite forcing 16 turnovers and scoring 19 points off them.
After trading the lead for much of the second half, Utah pulled ahead for good with a 10-2 run late in the fourth quarter. Joe Ingles bookended the roll with two baskets to give the Jazz a 103-96 lead with 2:53 remaining.
Los Angeles cut it to 109-105 on two free throws from Gallinari with 39.4 seconds left. Williams missed a 3-pointer that would have cut it to one, and Mitchell hit two free throws to secure the win.
“We didn’t win the game, but it gave me a lot of confidence,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “This was a big atmosphere. And, overall, we showed up.”
Los Angeles built a double-digit lead in the second quarter, going up 43-32 on a jumper from JaMychal Green, before the Jazz made a charge to erase the deficit. Utah made it 48-45 on back-to-back baskets from Mitchell and Gobert, but the Jazz couldn’t draw any closer before halftime.
Utah finally charged in front after Ingles buried a long jumper to cap off a third-quarter opening 11-2 run and put the Jazz up 60-58.
“They weren’t feeling us early,” Gobert said. “They were feeling way too free. We had to pick it up. We did. We communicated better. We made everything a little harder for them.”
Gobert picked up his second foul with 2:16 left in the first quarter. With the Jazz center facing early foul trouble, Favors and Ingles stepped up defensively. Each player recorded three blocks. It marked a career-high for Ingles. As a team, Utah finished with a season-high 12 blocked shots. Their efforts helped the Jazz turn the tide defensively starting late in the first quarter.
“My mindset every game is to come out and be aggressive,” Favors said. “If he’s in foul trouble, I just got to make sure I’m ready to go.”
DISHING IT OUT
Williams finished with a team-high six assists to reach 3,000 career assists. His 5.4 assists per game rank second in the NBA this season among reserve players.
Clippers: The Clippers totaled 46 points off the bench. Los Angeles entered the game leading the NBA in bench scoring at 53.2 points per game. … Gallinari made 12 free throws, matching his season high. He finished 12 of 13 from the line. … Patrick Beverley finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season.
Jazz: Gobert eclipsed 4,000 career rebounds with the Jazz after collecting 13 boards. He now has 4,009 rebounds – fifth most in franchise history. … Rubio exited late in the third quarter with left hamstring tightness. … Mitchell scored at least 30 points for the 11th time this season.
Clippers visit the Kings on Friday.
Jazz visit the Nuggets on Thursday.