Jazz meet Clippers looking for fifth straight win
The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers are trending in opposite directions heading into their first meeting of the season Wednesday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The Jazz (24-21) have won a season-high four straight games after completing a sweep of their four-game homestand with a 100-94 win against the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.
The Pistons defeated Los Angeles (24-19) on Saturday afternoon before the Clippers lost again Monday night against the visiting New Orleans Pelicans, extending their losing streak to three games, one short of their season high.
Los Angeles has been burned by the opposition's superstar the past two games. Blake Griffin scored 44 points for the Pistons, and Anthony Davis had 46 points and 16 rebounds for the Pelicans.
"It's tough, but it's still early in the season," said Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari, who is 16 of 31 from 3-point range in the past four games. "The good thing about the NBA schedule is you play another game in two days, so we've just got to be focused for the next one."
The Clippers will be up against one of the top six rebounders in the NBA for the third straight game.
Rudy Gobert grabbed a career-high with 25 rebounds against the Pistons to move into sixth in the NBA at 12.8 rebounds a game.
"Right now, we're doing the things we're supposed to do defensively," Gobert said. "It fuels us."
Utah's win against Detroit also moved the Jazz into eighth place in the Western Conference.
Utah guard Donovan Mitchell has surpassed his scoring average in each of the past six games, averaging 30 points in that stretch. He combined to shoot 14 of 24 from 3-point distance in three games last week, but has cooled off in the past two, shooting 7 of 20 from beyond the arc.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers told reporters after the loss to New Orleans that he's been disappointed in the play of starting rookie point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who played a season-low 13 minutes against the Pelicans after he was limited to 17 minutes against the Pistons.
"He's fine, he'll get it going, but he's not playing well right now," Rivers said of Alexander, the 11th pick in the 2018 draft. "It's a team game, so when one guy's not playing well we customarily put in someone else."
Rivers said Alexander's decrease in minutes wasn't a punishment.
"You don't get punished by not playing; you get rewarded by playing," he said. "You earn your minutes and that's your reward, but if you're not playing well, you don't get to keep your minutes."
Second-year backup guard Tyrone Wallace has seen his minutes increase of late for Los Angeles. Wallace, a 2016 second-round pick of Utah who was released a year later, has been playing solid defense the past few weeks, and his ability to drive into the paint has helped create easier scoring chances for the offense.
"When he's on the floor, we play at a faster pace," Rivers said.
"Even when he's not the primary ball-handler, when he's on the floor, we run more because he runs and he gets out and you can advance the ball to him. So I've been really happy with the way he's played."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 15, 2019