Basketball can be a game that consists of big runs and spurts. That certainly held true in tonight’s Suns/Clippers game.
The Suns were only down two, 96-94, in the fourth quarter, but the Clippers went on a 15-0 after their head coach Doc Rivers called a timeout to put the game away and win by a score of 120-100.
For most of the night, things were pretty much even between the two teams.
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The Suns held a two-point after the first 24 minutes of play, but they struggled in the third quarter on both ends of the floor as the Clips took a 12-point lead heading into the fourth. Phoenix was able to get within two points only before Los Angeles went on that huge run to put the game out of reach.
Isaiah Thomas led the way for the Suns with 25 points. Four other Suns finished off the night in double figures; Alex Len, Marcus Morris, Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.
The Clippers got a balanced attack of their own with six different players reaching double digits in points. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were LA’s leading scorers with 23 points a piece.
Things won’t get any easier for the Suns when the Washington Wizards come to US Airways Center on Wednesday night. Tip off will be at 8:30 PM Arizona time and will be nationally televised on ESPN.
The Suns bench was really good tonight as they were able to outscore the Clippers unit by a 46-32 margin. Thomas did a great job of getting to 25 points on only 11 shots. Marcus shot the ball well and even Miles Plumlee had some quality minutes with Brandan Wright sidelined with an injury.
Phoenix did a real nice job of taking care of the ball this evening. They had 23 assists and only 11 turnovers. More often than not, you are going to win with that kind of assist/turnover ratio. Unfortunately, the Clippers were even better.
Len probably had his best half of the season in the first 24 minutes of this game. Playing against one of the best frontcourts in the league, the young big man out of Maryland led all Suns scorers with 12 points. He was pretty quiet in the second half though, one of many Suns to struggle.
The Suns also did a nice job shooting from the charity stripe. Phoenix made 22 of their 27 attempts from the free-throw line, good for 81 percent. It’s been one of the biggest strengths of this team all season long.
You aren’t going to win a lot of games when you give up 120 points to your opponent. The Clippers didn’t have much trouble on the offensive end as they had three straight quarters where they scored 30+ points. They shot 49 percent from the field, including 43 percent from three-point range. It just wasn’t a good night for the Suns on the defensive end.
Staying on the defensive end, the Suns allowed the Clippers to grab 14 offensive boards, which gave them their fair share of second chance points. As a whole, the Suns were outrebounded by a margin of 50-31. Hard to win ballgames when you are getting killed like that on the glass.
P.J. Tucker is not getting the job done on the offensive end at the moment. He had three straight games earlier this month, where he scored 19, 11, 10, and he has scored only 19 points in five games since that point. His three-point has been especially bad as he has made only 1 of his last 13 attempts. If this continue, Jeff Hornacek should strongly consider giving more minutes to rookie T.J. Warren.
These technical fouls are officially of hand. Markieff Morris got yet another one in the third quarter and because of Hornacek’s new rule, didn’t return to the game from that point on. I love the intensity this team shows, but they need to grow up and stop complaining to the officials. It’s not doing this team any good and it has cost them a few times this season now.
Phoenix needs to get off to a good start on Wednesday night or this thing can begin to snowball real quick. When you are battling for a playoff spot, you can’t afford to go on long losing streaks.