Barnes, Griffin lead Clippers to 5th straight win
PHOENIX (AP) Matt Barnes knows shooting nights like this are rare moments to be savored.
The 11-year NBA veteran scored 18 of his 28 points in the third quarter and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Phoenix Suns 104-96 Tuesday to match their season best of five victories in a row.
Barnes made 12 of his first 13 shots and scored 16 points in the first 5:09 of the third quarter.
”I felt like I got good looks every time,” he said. ”I found a little bit of space and was able to get the shot up. Every time it left my hands it felt good. One of those nights.”
Blake Griffin added 22 points and Darren Collison had 18 for Los Angeles.
DeAndre Jordan had 10 points and 17 rebounds and blocked Goran Dragic’s layup try with the Suns still in it with 41 seconds to go.
P.J. Tucker scored 18 and Gerald Green 17 on 6-of-19 shooting for the Suns, who played without center Miles Plumlee (right knee sprain). They also lost guard Leandro Barbosa to a broken left hand in the first half.
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said Barbosa would be out four to six weeks.
After Jordan’s block, his two free throws sealed it at 101-94 with 39.5 seconds left.
Phoenix led by as many as 12 in the third quarter and trailed by as many as 15 in the fourth before cutting it to three late.
Trailing 61-49, Los Angeles outscored the Suns 32-10 to take an 81-71 lead on Barnes’ layup after a Clippers offensive rebound with 38.9 seconds to go in the third quarter. Markieff Morris scored to cut Los Angeles’ lead to 81-73 entering the fourth.
Barnes shot 7 of 7 for 18 points in the third quarter. Griffin added 12 in the period.
The Clippers won despite a 4-for-14 shooting night from Chris Paul. Dragic, his Phoenix counterpart, was 5 for 14. They had nine assists apiece.
”It is not going to be Blake and Chris every night,” Barnes said. ”We have a deep team and you have to be accountable for everybody and we have been showing that lately.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers credited his team’s second-half defense.
”The second quarter was horrendous,” he said. ”But then I thought our defense, to hold them to 39 points in the second half – everybody was in the right spots. We were rotating, and we played with intensity.”
Los Angeles built its biggest lead at 90-75 on Jared Dudley’s layup with 8:48 left.
Phoenix got back in it with an 11-0 run. Morris scored on a baseline dunk, then followed with a 3-pointer that cut the Clippers’ lead to 90-86 with 6:31 left.
Green was 3 for 16 before making two 3s and bouncing in a 16-footer to cut the lead to 97-94 with 2:37 to go. Griffin made a fadeaway 13-footer with 2:09 left.
”The third quarter, they were more physical, especially on defense,” Dragic said. ”We were catching the ball way out and we didn’t get open shots. They just played hard defense, like we should do.”
Early on, Phoenix dominated.
The Suns outscored the Clippers 16-2 over the final 3 1/2 minutes of the first quarter and the opening 1:45 of the second to lead 30-24 after newcomer Shavlik Randolph made one of two free throws with 10:15 left in the half.
Dragic got his offense in gear in the final 1:19 of the half. He sank a 3-pointer, stole Barnes’ pass for a layup, then fed Alex Len for a layup as Phoenix used a 9-2 run to lead 55-44 at the break.
NOTES: Barbosa was hurt taking a charge late in the first quarter but stayed in the game another 6 minutes. … Phoenix is a half-game ahead of Memphis for the No. 8 playoff spot in the West. … The Clippers were without Jamal Crawford (strained left calf) for the second game in a row. … Len, a first-round draft pick, got his first start in place of Plumlee and struggled with six points and six rebounds in 19 minutes. … Plumlee injured his knee in practice last week and had been trying to play through it. … Suns G Eric Bledsoe, coming back from knee surgery, participated in a full scrimmage Monday. … Bledsoe was hurt in the Suns’ 107-88 win over the Clippers in Los Angeles on Dec. 30, the only other time the teams have met this season.