PHOENIX (AP) — Chris Paul scored 13 of his 24 points in the first quarter to help the Los Angeles Clippers run out to an early lead and beat the Phoenix Suns 102-96 in a preseason game Tuesday night.
Byron Mullins and Willie Green each had 15 points and DeAndre Jordan added 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who led by 16 at halftime en route to their second win in four games.
Goran Dragic scored 20 points and Marcin Gortat added 12 to lead the Suns, who had won their first three preseason games while averaging 113 points per game.
After the Suns pulled to 95-94 on Miles Plumlee’s short jumper with 38.8 seconds left, Lou Amundson scored on a dunk 5 seconds later to give Los Angeles a 97-94 lead, and Kendall Marshall missed a jumper on Phoenix’s ensuing possession.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers spent the second half in the locker room with an undisclosed illness. Los Angeles assistant coach Alvin Gentry, who was fired by the Suns on Jan. 18, took over the sideline duties.
Playing its presumptive starting lineup for the first time, Phoenix cut into the Clippers’ lead at the start of the second half. Gortat and Dragic scored six points each, and Eric Bledsoe hit a 19-foot jumper with 4:16 left in the third quarter to pull the Suns within 66-63.
But Paul scored on consecutive jumpers and set up Jordan for a thunderous alley-oop dunk over Bledsoe as Los Angeles pushed its lead back to 76-66 to end the third.