LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points, Rudy Gobert had 23 points and 20 rebounds, and the Utah Jazz rolled past the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers 114-96 on Wednesday night for their ninth consecutive victory.
Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points for the NBA-leading Jazz, who improved to 24-5 with their 20th win in 21 games.
The Jazz had never won 20 out of 21 games in franchise history, and 18 of those wins have come by double-digit margins.
Despite missing superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers hung with the Jazz for three quarters. But the Jazz broke it open in the fourth, outscoring Los Angeles 33-21.
Gobert scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half in recording his second 20-20 game this season.
“I think it really started from the defensive end, our physicality,” Gobert said. “They were really aggressive in the first half. They were just playing harder than us. Regardless of who we play, we can’t really let that happen if we’re going to be the team we want to be. In the second half, we became more aggressive and we got better shots.”
After a rough first half that didn’t resemble Utah’s impressive recent play, the Jazz erased a five-point deficit and opened up a tight game with a 14-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters, followed by a 16-3 run to put it away.
“(Gobert) was the aggressor on defense, on the boards, everywhere,” Mitchell said. “That’s something that really set the tone. He did that from the jump. That’s the Rudy we need every day, and he’s been doing that.”
Joe Ingles added 14 points and five assists, while Royce O’Neale chipped in with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Lou Williams scored 16 points and Reggie Jackson added 15 for the Clippers, whose four-game winning streak ended.
The Clippers were profoundly disadvantaged in this heavyweight matchup: Leonard missed his third straight game with a bruised leg, and George missed his seventh straight with an injured toe. Nicolas Batum also sat out with a concussion, leaving LA without three regular starters.
“I can’t fault our effort and our competing, (but) it’s just one of those games where they played well enough to beat us, especially in the fourth quarter when they got it going,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s why they’re the best in the league defensively, because of the way they make you play.”
The Jazz played without Mike Conley, who had hamstring tightness, for the sixth straight game. Utah is 6-0 during that stretch.
Despite their injury absences, the Clippers’ supporting cast made Utah uncomfortable on offense throughout the first half. Los Angeles took a 51-46 lead into the break while soundly outrebounding Utah, forcing poor shots and bothering its usually fluid ball movement.
Both teams credited Gobert with changing the game after halftime.
“Their guard play is pretty good in the pick-and-roll, so when you have a big like Rudy Gobert setting solid screens, it makes it hard to guard him,” said Amir Coffey, who scored 13 points for Los Angeles. “He does a good job finishing around the rim and cleaning up misses. Sometimes it’s just tough to handle what he can do.”
The Jazz struggled from three-point range, making just 13 of 40 (32.5%) from beyond the arc. But the Utah defense forced 17 turnovers and held the Clippers to 44.2 percent shooting from the field.
The Jazz and Clippers will play again at the Staples Center Friday night at 8:00 p.m.