Clippers-Jazz Preview

One of Blake Griffin's best efforts didn't help the Los Angeles Clippers maintain their mastery of the Utah Jazz in their last meeting.

It figures to be even easier for Griffin and his team to flourish in the paint now that they won't have to face Utah center Rudy Gobert.

The Clippers can win their seventh straight in Salt Lake City on Saturday night as they try to fix some recent sloppiness when they face the Jazz.

Los Angeles (17-13) had won 13 in a row over Utah before a 102-91 home defeat Nov. 25. Griffin scored at least 40 points for the seventh time in his career to go with 12 rebounds.

Utah (12-15) still held a 44-38 advantage in points in the paint behind the frontcourt trio that combined for 65 points in Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Gobert. Hayward's 33 points were a season high.

Gobert pulled down 11 rebounds as the Jazz held a 39-35 edge on the glass. The center was lost Nov. 30 due to a MCL sprain in his left knee.

The Clippers will open a four-game trip, although Friday's 94-84 victory over the Lakers was a road game. They ended a three-game slide and seemed to be in position to get Griffin and other starters some rest for this contest with a 28-point lead after three quarters.

Instead, they allowed the Western Conference's worst team to cut the margin to 13 points, forcing coach Doc Rivers to re-insert Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan with 7:11 remaining. Wesley Johnson also entered at that time and scored five of the Clippers' nine points in a period in which they allowed 27.

''We've had to do that before,'' Paul said. ''But it's not about the starters having to come back in. It's about us as a team closing games out and we have to get better at that.''

Paul had 23 points and six assists, scoring 17 in the Clippers' 60-point first half. He has 55 points in his last two games.

Griffin made 6 of 17 shots for 13 points,12 boards and seven assists. Jordan, who leads the league in field-goal percentage at 70.8, had nine points and 14 boards.

The Clippers face three losing teams and an underwhelming Charlotte club on this trip, though they know they can't overlook anyone.

"Our record is not as good as we'd like for it to be right now," Paul said. "We're just trying to play the right way and pile up some wins."

Utah fell 103-85 at Golden State on Wednesday, finishing with its second-worst point total after shooting 41.3 percent. The Jazz made 7 of 20 3-pointers.

"We got tentative," coach Quin Snyder said. "If we make a couple of those (3-pointers), the game gets tighter."

Hayward made 2 of 15 shots for eight points. Favors led the way with 17 points and nine boards.

Utah is relying more on 3-pointers since Gobert went down, averaging 24.0 attempts and shooting 37.1 percent in its last 11 games. The Jazz averaged 19.4 attempts and shot 35.7 in their first 16.