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Mitchell’s 32 paces Jazz in win over Clippers

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Utah outscored LA 62-49 in second half to overcome early deficit.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

After trailing by as much as 17 points in the first quarter, the Utah Jazz rallied to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 111-105 Wednesday evening. The win kept the Jazz (34-26) in the sixth seed in the Western Conference and are now 1.5 games ahead of the Clippers (34-29) and San Antonio Spurs.

“That’s a big win for us,” Derrick Favors said. “Everybody’s so close right now in the standings. We need every win that we can get and hopefully it pays off for us in the end.”

That big early lead for the Clippers was cut from 29-12 to 33-26 by the end of the first quarter, but the Jazz failed to gain ground in the second quarter, going into the halftime break down seven points 56-49.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander provided the offensive spark in the opening half for the visitors. He posted 11 points on 5 of 6 shooting. The Clippers’ bench also pitched in with 20 first-half points to just six for the Jazz (all from Jae Crowder, who went 2 of 8 from the field in the first two quarters).

Things finally turned around for Utah in the early part of the third quarter. LA scored the first two points of the third, but then Donovan Mitchell went on a personal mini-run of seven points with a free throw and a pair of 3-pointers, including this one.

That 7-0 run became an 11-0 Jazz run thanks to buckets by Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles and the team took its first lead (60-58) since 4-2 at the 10:57 mark in the first.

Mitchell added another basket to for nine points in the third (of Utah’s 34 third-quarter points). He added another eight in the fourth to finish with a game-high 32, his second 30-point game in three games and 11th on the year. Mitchell said the scoring touch came from “just being able to attack” the rim.

“Just going out there, finding ways to get in transition, get easy ones, get to the free throw line,” he said. “I took a few ill-advised ones but that’s part of it and I’m still learning.”

Quin Snyder likewise pointed out how the second-year guard attacked the basket, saying that “when you do that, good things can happen.”

After the Jazz got back into the game, it was back and forth for most of the remainder of the game. After Utah took the 60-58 lead, there were nine ties and 14 lead changes the rest of the way. The Jazz managed to pull away in the final three minutes thanks to a big 3-pointer from Joe Ingles and some solid play from back-up point guard Raul Neto.

Neto entered the game with 2:18 left in the third for Ricky Rubio, who did not return to the game due to hamstring soreness. The Brazilian proceeded to play almost the entirety of the remaining minutes and went 4 of 6 from the field for 10 points while adding an assist.

“Raul in particular came in and was terrific,” Snyder said. “Just did a lot of little things, made a couple big plays.”

Favors, Neto’s teammate of three seasons, said he wasn’t surprised by Neto stepping up with Rubio unavailable for the last 14 minutes.

“That’s nothing new,” Favors said. “When one guy goes down, Raul is always ready to step up, always ready to come in and make plays, be aggressive defensively, offensively, make shots. I’ve seen it for a couple years so I’m not surprised.”

Gobert finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Favors also had a double-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks of his own.

The Jazz will face the Denver Nuggets (42-18) tomorrow. It will be the second back-to-back Utah will have played in less than seven days, though with three days separating each two-game stretch. The Nuggets are coming off a 121-112 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.