SALT LAKE CITY - On the verge of a five-game road trip, the Utah Jazz knew how much they needed to win at home Tuesday.
And after losing seven of eight, winning anywhere felt good.
"I wouldn't say we've turned it around yet, but we're playing better and we're competing a lot better," said Raja Bell, who scored 12 in the Jazz's 93-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Utah also got a nice test before leaving on a trip that starts today at Phoenix. The Clippers were coming off a double-overtime loss to Boston on Monday and didn't arrive in Salt Lake City until 3:30 a.m., but showed no signs of fatigue.
The Clippers never trailed by more than seven and had plenty of opportunities to win at the end. Instead, they lost for the 22nd time in their last 23 tries in Utah.
"We missed some crucial plays down in the end," said Corey Maggette, who scored 28 to lead Los Angeles. "They played extremely hard. They just beat us on the boards. Offensive rebounds really cost us the game."
The Jazz only outrebounded the Clippers 37-34, but 20 of Utah's rebounds were on offense. Mehmet Okur led the Jazz with 19 points and 13 rebounds and helped seal it with three free throws in the last 9 seconds.
"It was huge for us. That was our last home game before the East Coast trip," Okur said.
Matt Harpring scored 16 and Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Carlos Boozer added 13 points for Utah.
The Jazz also got a win in Jerry Sloan's 1,500th game as an NBA coach, making him the 10th coach to reach the milestone. Sloan showed his intensity hasn't decreased over time, benching point guard Carlos Arroyo after an argument in the third quarter.
Utah persevered without the starter and avoided falling four games below .500.
"We've got to start taking care of our home," Harpring said. "For a confidence thing, going into a road trip on a win as opposed to a loss is big."
Maggette made a putback in the final seconds that pulled the Clippers to 90-89, but they could never overcome the Jazz after losing the lead early in the fourth quarter.
Elton Brand scored 19 and Marko Jaric finished with 18 points for the Clippers.
"I know we can beat Utah. We just came short once again," Maggette said.
Down 90-87, the Clippers lost a lot of time with some questionable shots. Mikki Moore hit nothing on a 3-point attempt and Bobby Simmons missed after pulling down the rebound before Maggette put it back in to cut it to 90-89.
Los Angeles fouled Okur right away and he made both free throws with 9 seconds left and went 1-for-2 with 3 seconds remaining.
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