Lauri Markkanen returns to help Jazz rout Clippers
By MATTHEW COLES
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Lauri Markkanen had 34 points and 12 rebounds to help the Utah Jazz beat the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers 126-103 on Wednesday night.
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 Ivica 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.”
The Jazz led wire-to-wire and by as many as 25 points over the weary Clippers, on the second game of a back-to-back set, without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Jazz (24-24) have won four of their last five games.
“Our team showed really good focus for four quarters. Winning all four quarters is really hard to do in an NBA game,” Utah coach Will Hardy said.
Mike Conley had 17 points and nine assists, Jordan Clarkson scored 16 points and Walker Kessler had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
“Early in the game, the ball was finding the open man. And that’s the way team ball should be played. It happened to be me a few of those times,” said Conley, who was just one point off his season high.
Norman Powell led Los Angeles with 30 points, and 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 Los Angeles 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 made 19 of 32 3s and shot 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.”
Clippers: 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 through three quarters. … Utah shot 59.4% from 3, the team’s best percentage since 2018.
Clippers: At San Antonio on Friday night.
Jazz: Host Brooklyn on Friday night.
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