SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Mike Conley is in the groove this season, and it is paying off for the Utah Jazz.
Conley made seven 3-pointers and scored a season-high 33 points, the most points he has scored since joining the Jazz, to lead Utah to a 106-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night.
“To come out against a very good team, the LA Clippers and compete from the jump,” Conley said. “The guys attitude was perfect for four quarters, unselfish basketball, and that’s who we are.”
Conley added seven assists, while Derrick Favors poured in 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds as the Jazz withstood a furious fourth quarter rally to pull out its first home victory of the season.
“He just did a great job of controlling the whole game and just making big plays for us,” forward Favors said.
Donovan Mitchell added 15 points for the Jazz, while Rudy Gobert added 12 points and nine rebounds.
Paul George had 25 points, eight rebounds and six steals to lead Los Angeles. Kawhi Leonard added 20 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists. The Clippers shot just 38.8% from the field.
Los Angeles trailed by as many as 20 in the second half before rallying in the fourth quarter. The Clippers cut Utah’s lead to 95-94 after George drained a 3-pointer with 3:15 left.
Gobert answered with a layup and then Conley sank his seventh 3 with 1:49 remaining to keep Los Angeles from overtaking the Jazz.
“This is a hard-working team,” George said. “We play hard. We never count ourselves out. We continued fighting all the way to the end and gave ourselves a chance.”
The Clippers became sluggish on offense as the first quarter progressed. Los Angeles shot just 25% from the field during that 12-minute stretch and scored only two baskets after taking a 13-11 lead on a 3-pointer from Nicolas Batum midway through the quarter.
That opened the door for the Jazz to surge ahead late in the quarter, and Utah had no trouble finding its shot. The Jazz shot 52% from the floor during the opening period.
Utah scored baskets on seven straight possessions and nine of 10 to fuel a 24-4 run over a 5½-minute stretch spanning the first and second quarters. Conley scored five of those baskets — including Utah’s final three field goals of the first quarter — and totaled 12 points in the first quarter alone.
Jordan Clarkson and Conley punctuated the run with back-to-back 3s, giving the Jazz a 37-19 lead a minute into the second quarter.
The Clippers nearly erased the deficit before halftime. Los Angeles scored on four straight possessions, bookended by baskets from Leonard, to trim the deficit to 43-42.
Utah weathered the surge and scored three straight baskets to end the half, capped by a dunk from Favors. The Jazz then opened the second half with three unanswered baskets and extended their lead to 67-47 on a corner 3 from Conley midway through the third quarter.
“It was a fun night and a night we definitely needed,” Conley said.
On the down side, Bojan Bogdanovic struggled for the second straight night, making just 3 of 12 shots from the field for six points. Bogdanovic is 0 for 8 from three-point range over the last two games.
The Jazz next open a 7-game road trip Sunday at San Antonio.