SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell looked at coach Quin Snyder when he arrived for shootaround Thursday, and the intensity on his face and in his body language was unmistakable.
“When he comes in like that, man, we generally respond with the same energy,” Mitchell said.
The Jazz rookie scored 19 points, Rudy Gobert had 15 points and 10 rebounds and the Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers 117-95 on Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.
Derrick Favors scored 16 points, and Jonas Jerebko and Alec Burks each had 13.
The Clippers are desperately chasing a playoff spot, but the Jazz displayed an urgency from the opening tip and never trailed.
“Tonight we were just tighter. We had more connectivity as a group. I think our guys understood what an important game this was,” Snyder said. “As you move forward every game matters in a significant way.”
Meanwhile, the Clippers couldn’t explain their sluggish performance.
“It was terrible,” said Austin Rivers, who led Los Angeles with 19 points. “… They played harder. It looked like they understood how important this game was.”
Montrezl Harrell had 17 for LA, which trails eighth-place New Orleans by 2 1/2 games with three to play.
The Jazz are in position for home-court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs — win out and they will host at least the first round, an almost inconceivable notion before they went 27-5 over the last 11 weeks.
“We’ve just been locked in defensively,” said Joe Ingles, who had 11 points and nine assists. “We executed early tonight and got them to call an early timeout and then we just kept stepping on their throat from there on out.”
The Clippers, who shot just 3 for 17 from beyond the arc, have lost three of four and have nearly been eliminated from the postseason.
“They beat us in every way, so give them credit. First game that I thought we let go of the rope was tonight. You could see it early. It was disappointing,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
The Jazz put the game away with a 9-2 run early in the second half and led by 30 during the fourth quarter.
The Clippers had trouble staying with Utah’s multiple screen-and-roll actions and seemed to be chasing the ball all game.
Utah took the season series 3-1.
Clippers: Tobias Harris got a technical foul with 5:58 left in the second quarter for arguing. … Danilo Gallinari missed his fourth game in the last six with a sore right hand. … The Clippers failed to reach the 100-point mark for just the second time in their last 12 games.
Jazz: Rubio, who missed the Memphis game with a sore left hamstring, scored nine points in the first quarter but did not return as his leg tightened. … Jae Crowder also left the game in the first quarter after getting poked in the eye. … Gobert got a technical foul in the second quarter. … Mitchell had scored at least 20 points in his last 10 games but sat the last 14 minutes of the blowout.
GOOD FROM DEEP
Ingles became the first Jazz player to make 200 3-pointers in a season after hitting a jumper from beyond the arc in the opening minutes of the second half. The Australian forward was fourth in the league in 3-point percentage at 44.2 coming into the game and has the NBA’s longest active streak with 36 games with a 3-pointer. Mitchell, who is six behind the rookie record for 3-pointers made, has the second-best mark at 179 and counting. Both passed the 178 that Randy Foye made in the 2012-13 campaign.
PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME
“We almost pulled off a complete 48-minute game. We played well at both ends of the floor and played Jazz basketball,” Jerebko said, before acknowledging that Utah has been building to this crescendo over the past three months. Favors said Utah has been playing as well as any time in his eight years with the Jazz. Coach Rivers agrees, saying “if you don’t think they’re better than last year, you’re crazy.”