News » Clippers-Jazz Preview 2009-10-30

Clippers-Jazz Preview 2009-10-30

Clippers-Jazz Preview 2009-10-30The Utah Jazz looked as inconsistent in their first road game as they did all last season away from EnergySolutions Arena, but they have good reason to believe they can bounce back.

The Jazz play their home opener Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers - a team they haven't lost to on their own court in nearly seven years.

Utah struggled to a third-place finish in the Northwest Division last season after winning the division title the previous two years. The Jazz settled for eighth place in the Western Conference before losing in five games to the Lakers.

A better postseason seed would've been likely if not for a 15-26 road record, something the Jazz were focused on improving this season. However, they opened the 2009-10 campaign with a 114-105 loss at Denver on Wednesday.

Utah took a nine-point lead early in the second quarter, but Denver pulled ahead going into the second half and took control in the fourth quarter.

"They really jumped us in the fourth quarter," said Deron Williams, who had 28 points and 13 assists. "They gained some momentum with that start and we never regained it."

Williams figures to have to carry the bulk of the scoring for the short-handed Jazz, who played without Matt Harpring (ankle, knee), C.J. Miles (left thumb) and Kyle Korver (left knee). After struggling with injuries last year as well, Utah got another scare when Mehmet Okur limped to the locker room early in the first quarter after trying to draw a charge. He returned before the end of the quarter, though, wearing a flexible brace on his left knee.

"It could have been worse," said Okur, who was second on the team in scoring last season with 17.0 points. "I'll be OK."

A defeat against the Clippers (0-2) would give the Jazz their first 0-2 start since 2002-03. A home matchup against Los Angeles, however, should have them feeling confident since they are 34-1 in their last 35 games versus the Clippers in Utah, winning the last three by at least 20 points.

Los Angeles is looking for its first victory after suffering two tough losses to open the season, falling by seven points to the Lakers on Tuesday before losing 109-107 to Phoenix on Wednesday.

Against the Suns, the Clippers shot 55.8 percent but were 15 of 27 at the free-throw line. They tied the game on Rasual Butler's 3-pointer with 11 seconds left, but gave up a go-ahead layup to Steve Nash and Eric Gordon couldn't hit a 3-pointer as time expired.

"We need to play with energy, a sense of urgency and some fire," Butler said. "We need to continue to play hard, defend and make free throws."

Marcus Camby had 23 points and 11 rebounds while Chris Kaman scored 22.

The Clippers, who finished with the second-worst record in the West last season, began 0-6 in 2008-09. They've started this season without No. 1 overall draft pick Blake Griffin, who has a broken left kneecap and will be sidelined up to six weeks.

"They're not going to give us respect, we have to earn it," coach Mike Dunleavy said.

Los Angeles' last win at Utah was a 96-89 victory on Jan. 22, 2003.

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Added: October 30, 2009


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