LOS ANGELES -- Elton Brand, who hasn't played all season because of a ruptured Achilles tendon, wants to return as quickly as possible. One reason is that he's itching to play with talented rookie Al Thornton.
"Whatever Al does on the court, I expect it because he works so hard and he challenges himself every day -- in games and in practice," Corey Maggette said of the Clippers' first-round draft pick. "The past couple of months he's been more patient. He can hit fadeaway shots, but now he's picking and choosing when to attack the basket more.
"Would he ever been in this position if Elton Brand wasn't hurt? You never know," Maggette added. "But when guys go down, that gives another guy an opportunity to step up. And he's really been stepping up and seizing that opportunity."
At the moment, Brand is still going through his paces in non-contact drills, but still hasn't been cleared to go through a full practice and all the banging that goes with it.
"The next hurdle to overcome with me is just getting back the confidence with my left leg, jumping off the leg and getting my balance," Brand said. "I mean, you can do so much cardio and drill work, but getting in the court is entirely different."
Brand said he expects to be cleared for full practice in a week or two, and hopes to be playing soon after that, even if it's limited minutes.
With the Clippers 14 games under .500 and 13 games out of a playoff spot, why not shut it down the rest of the season, start fresh in training camp and not risk another injury with the team headed toward another draft lottery?
"No matter how much time is left in the season, if I'm healthy, I'm going to play because this is my job," Brand said. "I want to jell with Al Thornton. This kid is a great young player, and I haven't play a lick with him. Chris Kaman has been an animal on the boards, and I have to see how many boards I can steal from him."
Maggette scored 27 points and Kaman added 14 points and nine rebounds. This was the 14th attempt they've made to record consecutive victories since starting out 4-0.
"I'm glad it happened," coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Now we have to go for three in a row. Utah has been playing great basketball, but our guys played for the whole 48 minutes."
Utah was outscored 38-26 at the free throw line and committed 16 turnovers, which the Clippers converted into 21 points. Los Angeles outscored Utah 58-38 in the paint.
The Jazz also were a season-worst 0-for-13 from 3-point range matching their worst effort of the season.
"We took a lot of 3-point shots, thinking we were going to get going, and we lost confidence in our offense because we never had much. But they had a lot to do with it," coach Jerry Sloan said. "They were terrific. They took us on like you're supposed to, and they were a lot more physical."
Seventeen of Utah's 20 losses this season have come on the road. The Jazz came into Staples Center on a 17-2 roll that began with reserve forward Kyle Korver's first game with Utah, following the Dec. 29 trade that sent disgruntled Gordan Giricek to Philadelphia.
"It's not the end of the world. It all depends on how they react after a loss," Sloan said. "It's a long, drawn-out season, and hopefully they learn something from it."
The Clippers broke open a close game with an 11-0 run that extended the margin to 72-57 with 7:31 left in the third quarter. Maggette and Tim Thomas triggered the rally with 3-pointers 29 seconds apart.
- Utah's recent surge included two wins over the Clippers.
- Utah has had a double-digit assist performance from one of their players in 19 of the last 20 games. The Clippers haven't had one in almost a year. Shaun Livingston had 14 against Golden State last Feb. 24. But in the very next game, he sustained a dislocated left kneecap that required reconstructive surgery on March 13. He hasn't played since.