LOS ANGELES - This was one game the Utah Jazz just couldn't steal from the Los Angeles Clippers.
Elton Brand had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Bobby Simmons and Corey Maggette each added 22 points for the Clippers in a 101-90 victory Wednesday night. It was only the second time in Jazz history that the club played an entire game without a steal, and the first time a Clippers opponent failed to record one.
"That was a big part of it - we didn't beat ourselves," Brand said.
The Clippers, who lost to Houston and Memphis by a combined margin of 37 points in their previous two games and recorded a season-low 76 points against the Grizzlies on Monday night, returned to Staples Center for a three-game homestand and beat the Jazz for only the third time in their last 24 meetings.
Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Carlos Boozer scored 23 points for the Jazz, who dropped to 11-18 after their third straight defeat and 13th loss in 16 games. They haven't finished a season with a losing record since 1982-83, when they were 30-52 under Frank Layden. This will be their first losing December since 1987.
Utah shot 43.6 percent from the field, its 12th straight game under 50 percent. The Jazz, who entered averaging a league-high 19.6 fouls per game, committed 27 and the Clippers made 10 of 11 free throws before Utah got to the foul line.
"I don't know how many times we went in there and didn't come away with anything," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We didn't get to the free throw line. We took only nine free throws in the first half because we didn't attack the basket. We tried to finesse it."
Neither team led by more than seven until Brand made one of two free throws to give the Clippers a 58-50 lead with 7:05 left in the third quarter. Reserve center Zeljko Rebraca scored six points during a 2:15 span of the fourth to extend the margin to 81-66 with 8:52 remaining.
"Z gave us a big lift. He posted up well, passed well and rebounded," Brand said after Rebraca scored 10 points in a season-high 19 minutes.
The teams traded baskets over the next 3 minutes before Curtis Borchardt blocked Rebraca's layup and Boozer hit a 14-footer that trimmed Utah's deficit to 87-76 with 5:19 left. But the Jazz got no closer.
"It seems like in the second half, we get to a point where it's either make or break - and we have been breaking so far," Borchardt said. "It's been the same story every game."
Sloan used his eighth different starting lineup of the season, giving Los Angeles native Kirk Snyder his first NBA start in 24 games. The 21-year-old shooting guard scored 11 points in 30 minutes and shot 4-for-11 after missing his first three attempts.
The Clippers used a 12-2 spurt, capped by Simmons' 18-footer with 2.5 seconds left, to pull ahead 49-46 at halftime.
Utah was leading 42-37 late in the second when Matt Harpring was fouled by Maggette on a drive to the basket and stumbled to the floor with the ball. Simmons tried to grab the ball, but Snyder pulled Simmons away from Harpring and Simmons responded by angrily tossing Snyder aside by the jersey.
No punches were thrown, but Simmons was given a technical foul. Less than 2 1/2 minutes later, Snyder committed a flagrant foul against Simmons as the Clippers forward attempted a driving layup with 36 seconds left in the half.