Clippers host Hornets

( - The Los Angeles Clippers got Blake Griffin back, but it hasn't helped yet in the win column.

They'll try to change their fortune Tuesday night when the Charlotte Hornets pay a visit to the Staples Center.

The Clips have dropped two straight, although, only Sunday's loss to the Houston Rockets featured Griffin. In the process, LA has fallen into a tie for seventh seed out west with the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. The Clippers are only 2 1/2 games behind the Rockets, who are in fourth.

In Griffin's return from a 15-game absence, the Rockets earned a 100-98 victory in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Griffin underwent surgery to remove a staph infection in his right elbow and flirted with a triple-double Sunday. He finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

"I didn't think I played well," Griffin said. "Too many turnovers. I've got to get better. My elbow was a little sore at the end, but we were expecting that."

Chris Paul managed with 23 points and DeAndre Jordan grabbed 20 rebounds. Matt Barnes scored 19 points and J.J. Redick had 15 for LA.

Paul hit from deep to tie it at 96 with just over three minutes to play.

Terrence Jones' 3 at the other end restored Houston's lead, and it held on from there, though Griffin had a chance to put the Clippers back in front in the closing seconds. After intercepting an entry pass from Trevor Ariza, Griffin raced down the floor, barreled into Ariza and was called for a charge.

James Harden's only miss in 18 attempts from the foul line came at the very end. He could've given Houston a three-point lead, but didn't. However, Paul found nothing but air in his jumper to tie it.

The Hornets started their five-game road trip in pathetic fashion Monday with a 94-66 loss to the Utah Jazz.

Lance Stephenson led the woeful Charlotte offense with 17 points off the bench and Al Jefferson finished with 10. Jefferson was back in the lineup after a knee injury.

The Hornets, who have lost three of their last four, fell out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with the loss. The Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics and Miami share the final two places and the Hornets are a half-game back.

"They made tough shots," said Hornets guard Kemba Walker. "We did what we could and tried our best to get open."

The Jazz shot an astonishing 88.9 percent (8-of-9) from beyond the arc in the first quarter to take a 30-16 lead into the second. Charlotte was held scoreless for 4:21 in the second, and Trey Burke's tip-in stretched Utah's margin to 49-19 with 6:26 left in the second.

The Hornets were held to 25.7 percent shooting in the first half and trailed 61-30 at the break.

Utah led by 39 after three quarters and won by a considerable amount despite only scoring nine fourth-quarter points.

The Hornets still have to visit the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls on this trek.

The Clippers beat the Hornets by 21 in Charlotte on Nov. 24 and have taken seven of the last eight meetings. LA has won four in a row as the host in this series.