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(Sunday, December 30th)
Final Score: LA Clippers 107, Utah 96
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Caron Butler poured in 29 points on a terrific shooting night, and the Los Angeles Clippers finished off a perfect December with a 107-96 victory over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.
The triumph extended the current Western Conference front-runners' franchise- record win streak to 17 consecutive games, with the Clippers also joining the 1971-72 Lakers and 1995-96 Spurs as the only teams in NBA history to go 16-0 in a single month.
"We don't talk about it, it just happens," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said of the streak. "It's a tribute to everybody. It's unreal how many different ways we've won.
Butler led the way by going 10-of-14 from the field and an outstanding 6-for-6 from three-point range, with Chris Paul doing his part with a 19-point, nine- assist, five-steal effort and Jamal Crawford contributing another 19 points off the bench.
Al Jefferson racked up 30 points -- including 13 in the third quarter to help Utah make a bid for the upset -- on 13-of-22 shooting, but the Jazz ultimately were dealt their third straight loss and seventh setback in nine outings.
Gordon Hayward finished with 16 points in defeat.
"We played well in the second half, but we turned the ball over," said Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin. "Our effort is consistent, we just have to continue to work."
The Clippers rallied from being 19 points down in the second half to notch a 116-114 win over the Jazz in Salt Lake City on Friday. In this one, they owned a double-digit lead before Utah came storming back to put the outcome in doubt.
The Jazz trailed 71-59 midway through the third quarter before Jefferson led a 17-4 run that sent Utah in front. The big man netted 11 points during the surge, which he capped with a second-chance bucket that put the Jazz on top by a 76-75 count with two minutes remaining in the period.
Paul then sank a pair of free throws to ignite a 6-0 stretch that placed the Clippers back ahead during the initial stages of the fourth quarter, though the lead would be cut back to two shortly afterward when Enes Kanter made two foul shots to bring Utah within 83-81.
Crawford drained a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, however, then later knocked down a pull-up that extended the Clippers' advantage to 88-81 with just under eight minutes to go.
Utah would get as close as four points down the rest of the way, but a late 12-4 Los Angeles burst that began with a Matt Barnes triple enabled the Clips to turn a five-point edge into a 107-94 lead with under a minute left.
"We took care of it down the stretch, and that's all that matters," Griffin remarked.
Butler helped give the Clippers the early upper hand by burying a pair of 3- pointers during a 12-0 run that put Los Angeles up 22-13 just over eight minutes in, and he hit another triple later in the first quarter to account for a 29-19 advantage.
Utah countered with seven straight points to close within three with a minute elapsed in the second period, but the Clippers would gain some breathing room before the half came to a close. Griffin fed DeAndre Jordan for an alley- oop dunk with 1:17 remaining before intermission, then drove the lane and scored with 29 seconds left to enable Los Angeles to enter the break holding a 54-45 advantage.
The Clippers shot a strong 62.2 percent in the first half, with Butler making all five of his 3-point tries en route to a 17-point display.
"[Jordan] gave us a big effort on both ends, and Caron's five three's gave us a boost early," said Los Angeles head coach Vinny Del Negro.
The margin grew to 12 after Butler struck again from long distance four minutes into the third quarter to make the score 65-53, shortly before Utah embarked on its big run to get back into it.
Utah forward Marvin Williams sat out the game due to right knee inflammation, while point guard Mo Williams missed a fourth straight contest with a sprained right thumb. Jamaal Tinsley again started in Mo Williams' place and dished out a game-high 11 assists ... The Clippers improved to 3-0 against Utah this season and have now won five straight in the series ... Griffin finished with only seven points in 26 minutes while saddled with foul trouble for part of the game.
12/31 00:54:52 ET
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