LOS ANGELES – It’s 12 feet wide, 15 feet long, painted red, and the Clippers lived there Tuesday night in Game 2 against the Utah Jazz.
After scoring only 40 total points in the paint in Game 1, the Clippers amassed 60 points, 34 of which came in the first half.
The Jazz only scored 38 points in the paint, and the Clippers evened the first-round series with a 99-91 win at Staples Center.
“They got in there a lot of ways, we just weren’t able to contain the ball,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said of the Clippers’ ability to score inside.
Blake Griffin led the way for the Clippers with 24 points on 11-of-21 shooting in 39 minutes, while DeAndre Jordan had 18 points and 15 rebounds on a 9-of-11 night. Chris Paul finished with 21 points and 10 assists.
Time after time, the Clippers worked themselves into that 12-by-15 area of red. If it wasn’t on lobs to Jordan or drives by Blake Griffin for dunks, it was a proverbial layup line for others.
The Clippers established their paint dominance early in the first quarter when Paul found Jordan on back-to-back possessions with lobs to the rim for dunks. Luc Mbah a Moute scored on a pair of sharp cuts to the baskets later in the game.
The Clippers held off baskets by the Jazz all night. No matter what the Clippers did offensively, Utah always had an answer.
The Clippers held a 13-point lead early in the second quarter. But in the third, Utah cut it to just three on a 3-pointer by Boris Diaw and a basket by Derrick Favors. But Paul responded with a clinic on basketball effort.
Paul drilled a 3-pointer in transition and rejected a George Hill layup attempt into the third row. He stole the ball and went coast to coast for a layup, giving the Clippers a 60-52 lead.
“I love there was times where we scored right after they scored,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said.
The Clippers stated the game making their first five shots. After leading 11-8, the Clippers went on an extended 18-10 run for a 29-18 first-quarter lead.
The Jazz crawled back into the game with a 7-0 run early in the second quarter and cut their deficit to five. Utah trailed 51-42 at the half.
Paul made another 3-pointer from the right corner to give the Clippers a 92-83 lead late in the fourth quarter, but Joe Ingles answered with a triple from the left corner on the other end.
Griffin made a 3-pointer to put the Clippers up nine with 1:31 left in the game.
The Clippers finished with 26 assists on 44 made baskets.
Clippers guard Austin Rivers continues to make progress on his strained left hamstring. He’s been running on the treadmill lately and doing slides on the court, he said, and was seen shooting during pregame warmups Wednesday.
He said before the game that the Clippers are targeting him to return in Game 4 on Sunday in Utah.
Rivers suggested that if the term were ahead in the series, there wouldn’t be a feeling he needed to rush back.
“Honestly, if we win games, it buys time,” Rivers said before the game. “ButJoe Johnson had other plans.”
Clippers: Paul Pierce passed Larry Bird for No. 29 on the all-time list of postseason games played. He’s now tied with Bill Russell for No. 28 on the list at 165.
Game 3 on Friday in Utah.