With Walton Back, Clippers have some Talent


January 8, 1985

There wasn't much Jazz in the Utah attack Monday night, in fact coach Frank Layden said it was the Los Angeles Clippers who were making the music.

Forward Marques Johnson returned to action following a finger and a hamstring injury and scored 20 points to lead the Clippers to an easy 116-106 victory over Utah. Guard Derek Smith added 19 for the winners, who led the entire game.

''Tonight our first unit didn't peform,'' said Layden. ''The Clippers played hard at both ends of the court. When playing on the road, you can't afford to get behind. And tonight we were behind all night. They beat us like a drum.''

The Jazz, 17-19, trailed 73-55 in the third quarter before running off seven straight points to trail by 11. But baskets by Johnson, Bill Walton and Junior Bridgeman, and a free throw by James Donaldson built the cushion back to 18 points.

Utah could come no closer than the final margin of 10 points as the Clippers substituted freely, with many of the starters sitting on the bench most of the fourth quarter.

Donaldson added 14 points and Walton had 13 points and 15 rebounds. Bridgeman contributed 12 points and Norm Nixon added 11 for the Clippers.

Utah, which saw a modest two-game winning streak snapped, were led by forward Adrian Dantley with 22 points. Reserve Jeff Wilkins added 18, and Thurl Bailey had 16.

Clipper coach Jim Lynam said is was Walton who ignited the team.

''Walton set the tempo tonight from the outset of the game. With his blocked shots and his rebounding he set the team on fire.

''We had a real good first half. Marques Johnson did a good defensive job on Dantley, and Walton rebounded the life out of it. We played good defense and had a good steady offensive flow.''

Johnson shared the credit with Walton.

''The key tonight was the rebounding,'' Johnson said. ''Bill set the tempo, grabbing every missed shot. I'm the type of player who likes to play an open court game. A big guy who can rebound like that makes it easy.''

Darrell Griffith, who had 13 for Utah, said his old Louisville teammate Derek Smith was tough.

''They played really well tonight,'' said Griffith. ''It looks like they're out of their slump. I think Derek Smith has improved a lot. With the chance he has been given to play. At Golden State he was not given the opportunity to show his ability. I have known Derek and played with him for a while and he is playing the way I thought he could.''

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