Jazz embarrrassed in LA 104-72

Jazz embarrrassed in LA 104-72

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Clippers are playing like a team that's hungry for a playoff spot. The Utah Jazz hardly resemble a team that's leading its division by 9 1/2 games.

Elton Brand had 20 points and 11 rebounds before resting most of the fourth quarter, and the Clippers held Utah to its lowest point total of the season Friday night in a 104-72 victory that extended their winning streak to three games.

The Clippers lead Golden State by a half-game for the eighth and final Western Conference berth, and have a two-game margin over New Orleans.

"We needed the game, too, but they showed they wanted it more," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "That was the thing that was so discouraging. We couldn't even compete against them. I mean, everything they did was right on the money all night long. They were prepared to play us and they did a terrific job."

Corey Maggette scored 19 points for the Clippers, who never trailed and led by as many as 35 while handing Utah its fifth straight road loss and avoiding a four-game season sweep by the Northwest Division leaders.

"We are feeling pretty confident about ourselves," Brand said. "Utah's one of the elite teams and that makes this a great win. Utah runs their sets so well, we were trying to limit their layups and easy shots. We really wanted to box out guys like (Carlos) Boozer and (Andrei) Kirilenko. They have size and length and they hit the offensive boards."

Los Angeles had a 45-34 rebounding advantage against a team that came in averaging a league-leading 42.5 boards, and totaled 32 assists despite the absence of point guard Sam Cassell due to back spasms.

Chris Kaman had 14 rebounds and 10 points for the Clippers. Tim Thomas returned to the lineup after missing Wednesday's victory at Milwaukee because of a bruised left elbow.

"This is the right time for us to be jelling," said shooting guard Cuttino Mobley, who had 15 points. "When you have Corey and myself on the wing, as well as Elton and Chris down low and younger guys that play defense, it's a pretty game."

Boozer had 13 points and nine rebounds for Utah. In his previous game on Tuesday against Golden State, he tied a career high with 21 rebounds and became the first player to get at least 20 points and 20 boards in the same game for the Jazz since Donyell Marshall in December 2001.

Kirilenko was the only other player to score in double digits for the Jazz, who have dropped five of their last six games after winning 14 of 16.

"They took us out of our offense, they knew everything we were going to do on the floor, and we didn't react to any of it," Sloan said. "Every play we ran, they were on top of it. You put a team out there on the floor, people came to watch them play, and they didn't play. When you miss 20 free throws out of 37, you're not going to be in any ballgame."

The Clippers, who were welcomed back from their 3-3 road trip by their ninth sellout crowd, opened the game with a 13-5 run and extended a 17-point halftime lead to 81-53 by the end of the third quarter with 13 points by Maggette.

"We were just going through the motions out there," Utah's Matt Harpring said. "They took it to us. We were just soft tonight. That is unusual for us."

The Jazz shot 39.7 percent from the field and 17-for-37 from the free throw line. Things got so bad, Sloan had all of his starters on the bench throughout the fourth quarter.

"They were more determined to win the ballgame right from the beginning," Sloan said. "There were other things more important for our players than playing basketball. That's the thing that aggravates me about it, because I thought this game should be more important than other things."

All-Star center Mehmet Okur, who became a father for the first time on Wednesday, missed his first five shots and finished 1-for-7 with four points and six rebounds. Kirilenko, who spent Wednesday and Thursday morning working on his shooting with the help of former Jazz and Phoenix Suns guard Jeff Hornacek, was 5-for-9 from the field with 12 points.

Gordan Giricek did not make the trip, missing his third straight game because of bruised ribs.

Notes:@ Sloan is 63-21 against the Clippers for a .750 winning percentage, his highest against any team during his 22 seasons as an NBA head coach. The Clippers have changed coaches 11 times since Sloan got the job, the most by any NBA team. ... Utah has lost five straight on the road for the first time since an eight-game stretch from Feb. 4-April 5, 2005. ... The Clippers have beaten Utah in six of the last 17 meetings, with all the wins coming at home.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-03-24-07 0005MDT

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