Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, left, is fouled by Utah Jazz center Jeff Withey, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 25, 2017, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 108-95. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Clippers clinch playoff berth with 108-95 victory over Jazz

March 25, 2017 - 7:18 pm

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers lost a 16-point lead in the third quarter and their tempers went with it.

Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul were whistled for technical fouls and suddenly, Utah had made a game of it.

"My emotions got the best of me for a second," Crawford said. "I had to get it off my chest and settle down going into the fourth quarter."

Crawford responded with 17 of his 28 points in the final period, and the Clippers beat the Jazz 108-95 on Saturday to clinch a playoff berth for the sixth straight year.

"We always say he's got his dancing shoes on when he gets moving like that," Paul said of Crawford's effort off the bench.

Crawford said, "It's the way I'm handling the ball. If I'm kind of skipping, you can tell I'm locked in."

The Clippers trail the Jazz by a half-game in their race for the No. 4 seed in the West.

Los Angeles turned things around in the fourth, scoring the first eight points for an 80-70 lead. Crawford had six in a row to push the Clippers' lead to 103-84. He was 9 of 9 at the free-throw line for the game.

"He's just a great shot-maker, especially with a hand in his face," Utah coach Quin Snyder said.

Blake Griffin added 15 points and DeAndre Jordan had 15 rebounds for the Clippers.

Rudy Gobert had 26 points and 14 rebounds for Utah, and reserve Joe Johnson added 17 points. The Jazz have dropped four of five.

Utah rallied in the third, putting together a 20-6 spurt to trim Los Angeles' lead to 72-70 heading into the final period. Gobert had nine points and Johnson scored seven during the run that included 10 straight points for the Jazz over one stretch.

The Clippers grabbed control early on, shooting 52 percent in the first quarter while building a 15-point lead.

"Right from the beginning they jumped us, and we weren't ready," Gobert said. "That's what happened the last few games and we came out the same way."

The Jazz got within seven to start the second before the Clippers restored their 15-point margin and eventually led 49-41 at halftime.

Utah's top two scorers, Gordon Hayward and George Hill, struggled. Hayward, who averages 22 points, had 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Hill, who averages 17.1, had nine points while shooting 4 of 11.

Hayward asked to be taken out of the game in the fourth, when he sat on the bench with an ice pack on his knee. Snyder said he had an X-ray afterward.

"I think he just has a contusion, a bruised muscle," Snyder said.


Jazz: Gobert was coming off a career-high 35-point, 15-rebound performance against the Knicks on Tuesday. ... G Sheldon Mack missed his 11th straight game with a left ankle sprain. ... F/C Derrick Favors remains out with a left knee bone contusion.

Clippers: Their six-year playoff run is the longest in franchise history. ... They have won 18 of 20 against the Jazz dating to Feb. 1, 2012. ... They won the season series 3-1.


Jazz: Host New Orleans on Monday.

Clippers: Host Sacramento on Sunday in their next-to-last back-to-back of the regular season.


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