SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers already have a December to remember.
Sunday they can close it out in perfect fashion against a familiar foe — the same Utah team they rallied to beat 116-114 Friday night to earn their 16th straight win.
If they extend their streak by beating the Jazz at home Sunday, they will join the 1995-96 Spurs and 1971-72 Lakers as the only teams in NBA history to complete a 16-0 month.
If they fight the way they did Friday, it should be easy.
“Give Utah credit, but our guys battled back tonight,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “They found a way to win and that’s what it’s all about. We stayed together, we weathered the storm when we had to and gave ourselves a chance and we were fortunate to make enough plays.”
Afterward, team leader Chris Paul could hardly be heard over the pulsating music of Jay-Z as his teammates sang along in the visitors’ locker room.
The Clippers had just pulled off a 19-point comeback in what had been a dreadful venue for them.
The Clippers winning streak is the longest in the NBA since Boston won 19 in row from Nov. 15 to Dec. 23, 2008.
The last time the franchise won three straight in Salt Lake City was 1979-1981 when they were the San Diego Clippers.
“This one is a great win for us because we kind of needed a challenge,” said Blake Griffin, who had 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers. “(We had) to prove not only to everybody else but to ourselves that we can still win close games like this and win a game down 19 in the third quarter.”
In the opposing locker room, the Jazz were lamenting another one that got away — the second loss at home to the Clippers during their record streak. They dropped the first by one on Dec. 3 after leading by 14.
On Friday, ex-Clipper Randy Foye put up a 3-pointer at the buzzer that was contested by Matt Barnes, but no foul was called. Foye finished with a season-high 28 points for Utah.
Foye did his best not to say anything about the officiating.