Clippers visit Jazz with possible tiebreaker at stake
Serious playoff implications are in play when the Utah Jazz host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.
This will be the second of three times the two teams face each other in the regular season. Utah won the first matchup 129-109 on Jan. 16 in Los Angeles. A second victory for the Jazz (33-26) on Wednesday would clinch a series win and give Utah a valuable tiebreaker as the two teams jostle for playoff positioning.
The importance of the game is weighing on both teams with just a half-game separating them in the Western Conference standings.
"We got to win games," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "It doesn't matter where you play. We just got to win games now. People who are in the playoff race don't understand. There's no more home court or road. It's just single games. Win the game and go to the next game."
The Jazz have won three straight at home and four of five in February. They earned their first post-NBA All-Star break win on Saturday, pulling away to beat Dallas 125-109.
It marked the third time in four games that Utah scored at least 125 points. The Jazz shot 48.2 percent from the field and never trailed after the first quarter. They are showing signs of mounting a surge over the final weeks of the regular season, just like a year ago.
"We have had some rough times, we've had injuries, we've had a tough schedule at times, but we have stuck together," forward Joe Ingles said. "That is the strength of our group. We have got so many weapons, so many ball handlers. Our bigs are great rollers and defenders."
One of those weapons, Ricky Rubio, turned in a strong game against the Mavericks. Rubio finished with 25 points, five assists and zero turnovers after totaling eight turnovers in a double overtime loss to Oklahoma City a night earlier.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder praised Rubio for having a next-play mentality in bouncing back.
"That's who we need to be as a team and who we need to be individually," Snyder said. "Every game is different. We learn from every game."
Los Angeles (34-28) comes to Utah with a bit of momentum. The Clippers have won three of their last four games after also beating Dallas 121-112 on Monday. They also have won six of their last 10 games away from Los Angeles.
Strong bench play has been lifting the Clippers of late. Los Angeles got 71 points from its second-unit against the Mavericks. Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams led the way. Harrell poured in a career-high 32 points and Williams added 21.
Williams leads the Clippers in scoring with 19.9 points per game. Harrell is third with 16.3 points per contest.
Utah's win over Los Angeles in January was the fifth victory in a six-game winning streak for the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell paced Utah with 28 points, while Rudy Gobert added 23 points and 22 rebounds. Williams led the Clippers with 23 points off the bench.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 26, 2019