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- Utah’s Marvin Williams underwent an MRI on his ailing back Friday morning and will not dress for the game tonight. Enes Kanter will start in his place. As a starter this season, Kanter is averaging 15 points and 7.3 rebounds in nearly 32 minutes per game.
- After struggling mightily leading up to the All-Star break, Utah’s Trey Burke has now put together back-to-back 20-point games for the first time since Nov. 30 and Dec. 2. One area that has stood out is Burke’s recent willingness to get into the lane for more high-percentage shots. “[Trey] can make some free throws to mix with his perimeter shots,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. “And as much as he can get into the paint and see things, and make plays from there, that’s going to help us out.”
- Utah’s starting five will be: Burke, Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson, Kanter and Derrick Favors.
- The Clippers have won nine straight games and now sit just 3 1/2 games out of first place in the Western Conference standings.
- Much of the Clippers’ recent success has to do with the play of Blake Griffin, who has averaged 25.8 points and 9.3 rebounds since the All-Star break. Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers was asked about Griffin’s style of play: “We give him the ball a lot and he’s been very responsible with it,” Rivers said. “I want him to be free. I don’t want to be the guy that holds back that. He can do a lot of stuff, so why would you ever get in the way of that?”
- Jamal Crawford, who has missed five of the Clippers past six games, is traveling with the team but will not dress for the game tonight. Coupled with the continued absence of J.J. Redick, this opens the door for Matt Barnes and Darren Collison to see plenty of court time.
- Los Angeles’ lineup will be: Chris Paul, Collison, Barnes, Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
– Matt Payne