A chance to see Karl Malone and John Stockton do their thing against the Clippers is what drew 13,553 to Anaheim Arena on Tuesday night, not the 3-point shooting of James Robinson and Eric Piatkowski.
But to their surprise, the Clippers made a season-high 12 3-point shots, five of them by Robinson, whose season-high 25 points powered a 111-102 victory over the Utah Jazz and ended an eight-game losing streak.
"It was obvious from the get-go that they didn't want to play," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said of his team. "These guys are getting paid to play basketball and the people want to see them compete. They are killing this game playing like that."
Lorenzen Wright, coming off a 17-rebound performance against Indiana, grabbed 15 more against the Jazz, while Malone and center Greg Ostertag combined for 12 rebounds. Rodney Rogers scored 22 points for the Clippers and Wright added 17.
"I guess we just bring out the best in them," said Malone, who led Utah with 23 points. "They have the talent and they play us hard every time."
The Jazz, possibly looking ahead to Wednesday night's home game against Chicago the team that beat them last June for the NBA title lost for the fourth time in 17 games despite 22 each by Stockton and Jeff Hornacek.
"We have no excuse," forward Adam Keefe said. "We were rested and prepared, but the guys out on the floor just didn't get the job done."
Malone, who had season highs of 42 points and 18 rebounds against the Clippers in a 94-91 victory 37 miles up the freeway at the Sports Arena, finished with seven rebounds.
"We just needed a win, no matter who we played," said Clippers coach Bill Fitch, whose 938th victory tied Red Auerbach for second place behind Lenny Wilkens (1,090) on the career list. "The fact that we played Utah makes the win a whole lot better."
The Jazz, who have lost all 12 games in which they trailed after three quarters, were down 63-42 with 10:42 left in the third. But Stockton made a 3-pointer, four free throws and a 20-foot jumper in a 1:23 span to fuel a 13-2 run. Malone capped it with a 15-footer that narrowed the gap to 65-56 with 7:14 left in the period.
The Clippers, winning for only the third time in 28 games against teams with winning records, saw their lead dwindle to 82-78 on a free throw by Harold Eisley 13 seconds into the fourth quarter. But the Jazz never got closer.
Robinson, a fifth-year guard in his first season with Los Angeles, responded with a jumper and two of his five 3-point baskets, restoring the Clippers' double-digit lead to 96-85 with 7:11 remaining.
"I've been working on my shot a lot and I knew I was going to be in a rhythm," Robinson said. "We weren't worried about Utah. We were out there loose and having a good time playing basketball. It sure felt good to get a win. We needed the boost to our confidence level."
The Jazz got within seven on Stockton's two free throw with 3:06 left, but the Clippers scored the next five point to open up a 109-97 cushion with 58 seconds to go.
"We bent, but we didn't break," Fitch said. "When we really needed buckets, we got them. We made a couple of tough shots during some tough possessions, and I thought we played as good as we could in the fourth quarter."
The Clippers made seven 3-pointers in the half, including one by Robinson that capped a 23-8 run and gave them a 49-31 lead with 4:42 left in the second quarter. They led 55-40 at halftime.
Los Angeles opened the game with a 12-4 run and led 26-23 after one quarter with 12 points from Piatkowski, starting his sixth straight game while Brent Barry nurses a sore left heel.
Notes: The Clippers came within two of tying their club record of 14 3-pointers, set on Feb. 2, 1996, in a 122-113 loss at Utah. ... The Clippers are 12-14 at Anaheim Arena, including a 2-3 record this season. ... The Jazz will be hosting the Bulls for the first time since last June's final. They've met once since then, a 101-94 victory by the Jazz on Jan. 25, which snapped Chicago's 18-game home winning streak and its 38-game streak against Western Conference teams. ... The Clippers' last nine victories against the Jazz have come at home. They haven't won in Utah since April 18, 1989, and are 0-12 in Salt Lake City since the Jazz moved into the Delta Center. ... Utah took its only lead, 20-19, on Malone's two free throws with 2:46 left in the first quarter.
©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed