During the past two weeks, the Utah Jazz have performed like many predicted they would before the season began. The Jazz will try to continue their solid play Saturday when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers.
Donovan Mitchell scored 28 of his 35 points in the second half to spark the Jazz to their sixth win in their last seven contests in a 121-115 victory over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. Mitchell, who had 16 points in the third quarter, connected on 12 of 19 shots, including 3 of 6 3-pointers. He is the Jazz's leading scorer at 25.1 points per game.
Joe Ingles added 26 points, converting 6 of 10 3-pointers, while Rudy Gobert contributed 16 points on 7-for-7 shooting and 15 boards for Utah.
Mitchell credited Gobert and his key late defensive stops, including a crucial block of a Damian Lillard shot, for allowing the Jazz to prevail.
"Those two hustle plays by Rudy sealed the game," said Mitchell, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. "You can say what you want about my scoring or Joe, but at the end of the day, it came down to Rudy making two good plays. That's why he is who he is, that's why we rely on him."
Guard Jordan Clarkson, whom the Jazz obtained earlier this week from the Cleveland Cavaliers for Dante Exum and draft picks, made his Utah debut against Portland and scored nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in 21 minutes.
Utah has played well despite the absence of point guard Mike Conley, who has missed nine of the last 10 games with a hamstring injury. Conley, one of Utah's offseason acquisitions along with Bojan Bogdanovic, won't play against Los Angeles.
The Clippers used a second-half rally to defeat the Lakers 111-106 on Christmas Day in a spirited contest between two of the Western Conference's top clubs. The Clippers came back from a 12-point halftime deficit and held off the Lakers after grabbing the lead late in the fourth quarter. Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 35 points -- 11 of those coming in the fourth -- and 12 rebounds.
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley sealed the deal by knocking the ball out of bounds off LeBron James's hands with 3.4 seconds left.
Beverley said the Clippers, who have beaten the Lakers in their two meetings, earned the decision by staying calm after getting outplayed for much of the first three quarters.
"We just held our poise," said Beverley, who finished with eight points and nine rebounds, according to the Los Angeles Times. "We understand we're playing a phenomenal team in the Lakers, No. 1, No. 2 team in the NBA. We know we're playing a good team. They're not just going to roll over and let us win, especially at home. We kept our composure, we came out in the second half with a lot of energy."
The Clippers and Jazz split their initial two meetings this season with both clubs winning on their home floor. The Clippers prevailed 105-94 on Nov. 3, while the Jazz won 110-96 on Oct. 30.
--Field Level Media
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