SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Chris Paul scored 29 points and the Los Angeles Clippers forced a Game 7 in their first-round series with a 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
The Clippers will host the only do-or-die game of the first round Sunday, with the winner advancing to face the Golden State Warriors.
Los Angeles began to edge away in the third quarter and appeared to be in control when Austin Rivers capped a 9-2 run with a step-back 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 91-77 with 3:58 remaining.
He hit another with 1:29 left to make it 96-86, but Gordon Hayward scored seven straight to bring the Jazz within three before Joe Johnson missed a 3-pointer in the waning seconds.
Paul pushed Los Angeles throughout the night and just wouldn’t let the Clippers lose. The nine-time All-Star dominated and finished with eight assists, three rebounds and two steals. DeAndre Jordan added 13 points and 18 rebounds.
The Clippers overcame a slow start to finish at 49 percent shooting from the field. The Jazz went in the opposite direction, getting sloppy with the ball in the third quarter and making numerous defensive mistakes. They also shot just 41.0 percent from the field and were 7 for 26 from behind the arc.
Hayward led the Jazz with 31 points, George Hill added 22 and Rudy Gobert finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
The Clippers took a 47-45 lead into halftime after closing on an 8-2 run, including a pair of jumpers by Luc Mbah a Moute.
The Jazz jumped out to a 22-13 lead and looked to be on the brink blowing the game wide open before the offense went cold and the Clippers ripped off an 11-0 run. Utah shot just 3 for 13 from 3-point range in the first half and missed several wide-open attempts.
Clippers: Rivers started for the first time this series after missing the first four games with a hamstring injury. … Jordan’s six double-doubles in the first six games are a playoff high. … The Clippers held Johnson to 3-for-9 shooting.
Jazz: Utah is 5-1 all-time when leading a playoff series 3-2. … The Jazz opened the game as the only team in the playoffs ranking in the top three in field goal percentage and 3-point percentage.
The team with the points-in-the-paint advantage won the first five games. That streak came to an end as the Jazz outscored the Clippers 42-36 in the paint.