Depleted Clippers no match for Lauri Markkanen, Jazz

By MATTHEW COLES The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Fatigued and short-handed, the odds were stacked against the Clippers from the opening tip on Wednesday night.

Lauri Markkanen had 34 points and 12 rebounds to help the Utah Jazz to a 126-103 victory over a weary Clippers team that was playing the second night of a back-to-back set and doing it without All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Mike Conley had 17 points and nine rebounds, Jordan Clarkson scored 16 points and Walker Kessler had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz (24-24), who led by as many as 25 points and never trailed for their fourth win in their last five games.

Norman Powell led the Clippers with 30 points, and Ivica Zubac added 15 points and 12 rebounds. The Clippers (23-24) have dropped nine of their last 11 games.

“Offense ran through me tonight, so I just wanted to make the reads and the situations – whether it was to be aggressive for my shots or create for my teammates,” Powell said.

Leonard (right knee) and George (right hamstring) played Tuesday night in the Clippers’ 120-110 loss to Philadelphia, but both sat out the Utah game to recover.

John Wall is out with an abdominal strain and the Clippers hoped to have Luke Kennard back (right calf) but will need to wait longer.

“There’s a lot of turnover with guys on minute restrictions, load management, and things like that. But just sticking together, staying in the fight, and trying to make the right reads and play the right way defensively (is important),” Powell said.

The Jazz shot 19 for 32 from 3-point range, 52% overall and outscored the Clippers 50-34 in the paint.

“They were able to get what they wanted to in the pick-and-roll tonight and get into the paint and cause havoc,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We weren’t clean with our switches defensively and that hurt us.”

Markkanen returned after missing two games because of a bruised hip. He made six 3-pointers and had his 11th game with at least 30 points this season.

“I wanted to be aggressive and get going early. Just get in the rhythm of the game,” said Markkanen, whose national team coaches from Finland attended the game.

Markkanen made his mark close to the basket and around the perimeter, including a ferocious dunk over Zubac followed by a 3-pointer to give Utah a 78-62 lead in the third quarter.

“I’m noticing it’s pretty fun to dunk,” Markkanen joked. “It’s just a mindset going to the rim, no matter really who’s in front of you, either I’m going to get a dunk or get two free throws.”

TIP-INS

Clippers: Coach Tyronn Lue got a technical in the third quarter. … Powell went 5 for 6 from 3-point range in the first half. … L.A. had 15 offensive rebounds, leading to 26 second-chance points, but made only 22 of 58 2-pointers.

Jazz: Regular starter Kelly Olynyk (ankle) missed his fifth game. … The Jazz shot 65% from 3-point range through three quarters and finished the game at 59.4%, the team’s best percentage since 2018.

UP NEXT

The Clippers play at San Antonio on Friday at 5 p.m. PT

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