Clippers rebound for their 40th win
FEB 23, 2013 6:00p ET
They couldn't get away from that game fast enough. It was every inch a disaster -- a 26-point defeat that left them empty and discouraged coming out of the All-Star break.
Saturday night, they regrouped. It wasn't perfect, but their 107-94 win over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center was just enough to help them forget the Spurs and point them in a forward direction.
"We were a lot more focused," guard Chauncey Billups said. "That San Antonio game, it left a really bad taste in our mouths. We wanted to come out here and compete, and our effort level was much better, a lot more focused. Overall it was a good game for us."
The victory was the Clippers' 40th in 58 games, marking the earliest point in franchise history the team has reached that mark. It also gave them a 4-0 sweep of the Jazz this season; the last time that happened was 1978-79 when the Clippers played in San Diego and the Jazz were in New Orleans.
But history is not on their minds. They were more focused on playing with energy and enthusiasm, and they finally did in the third quarter. With a 51-49 halftime edge, the Clippers outscored Utah 19-2 to start the third, giving themselves a 19-point lead.
Caron Butler had 21 points and Blake Griffin 18, but it was reserve forward Lamar Odom who gave the Clippers the shot they needed. He had a season-high 18 points, including 11 in the final period, and sank two three-pointers.
"L.O. was unbelievable tonight," Chris Paul said. "Without his spark, his aggressiveness, we don't win this game. When he's aggressive, it changes the dynamic of our team and what we're capable of."
Odom hit three big shots after the Jazz had cut their deficit to 13 points with 6½ minutes left in the fourth: a layup, a three-point jumper and another outside shot to push the Clippers' lead to 104-84.
"He did a great job tonight, knocking down jump shots and taking it to the rack," Utah's Gordon Hayward said. "He really caused some problems for us. Usually you're trying to shut down Jamal Crawford, and that's a task in itself, so when you've got another guy who's rolling like that, it makes it really difficult."
Odom doesn't like to take credit for good games, preferring to be a contributor on the bench who can help in a number of ways. This was no different.
"I'm just trying to stay at it and word hard," he said. "I'm trying to fit in and do whatever I can to help the team win. It was a good night offensively, but the main thing is just to keep at it, keep working hard and keep trying to get better."
That goes for all of them. They put another day between themselves and the Spurs, and that it itself was a major victory.
+ SHOW COMMENTS +