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Jazz stay hot with win over short-handed Clippers

Jan 18, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA;  LA Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) blocks the shot of Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) during the first quarter at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Lauri Markkanen returned to the lineup and lifted the Utah Jazz to a 126-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers with 34 points and 12 rebounds on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.

Markkanen, back after missing two games due to hip issues, scored the first seven points of the game during a 9-0 Jazz run and proceeded to hit 11 of 20 field-goal attempts, 6 of 8 3-point shots and 6 of 6 free throws.

Utah, which shot 51.7 percent from the field and nailed 19 of 32 (59.4 percent) from 3-point range, evened its record at 24-24 with its fourth win in five outings. The Jazz won the season-series over the Clippers 3-1.

Norman Powell led the short-handed Clippers with 30 points and Ivica Zubac chipped in 15 rebounds and 12 boards. Los Angeles struggled from the field, shooting 40.2 percent.

Los Angeles, which lost at home to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, played without Paul George (rest), Kawhi Leonard (rest), John Wall (abdominal injury) and Luke Kennard (sore calf). The Clippers, who were kicking off a four-game road trip, have lost nine of 11 and fell to 23-24.

Six Jazz players reached double figures in scoring, including Walker Kessler, who had his ninth double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. The rookie added three assists and two blocked shots.

Mike Conley scored 17 points, including back-to-back treys to push Utah’s lead above 20 in the fourth quarter. He added nine assists. Jordan Clarkson contributed 16 points.

Utah held a 36-26 lead heading into the second quarter after its quick start. The Jazz took a 68-56 advantage into the locker room, Utah’s second-highest first-half point total of the season.

The Clippers made a short push early in the third quarter after Markkanen pushed Utah’s lead to 71-56 with three free throws to open the half. Marcus Morris Sr. scored four points in a six-point surge to whittle the Jazz’s lead to single digits at 71-62.

Markkanen then fueled another Utah run, following a Kessler bucket with a thunderous dunk over Zubac and then a 3-pointer to put Utah ahead 78-62 with 8:08 to go.

–Field Level Media