The Los Angeles Clippers are determined to rebound big-time from arguably their most embarrassing performance of the season when they visit the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.
The Clippers fell flat on their faces in the NBA’s showcase game on Chinese New Year on Saturday, getting drubbed 144-98 by the Golden State Warriors.
It was the Clippers’ most lopsided loss of the season by a full 20 points.
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“It’s embarrassing,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said after the game. “For the most part, we didn’t play with the right type of attitude or whatever you want to call it. We just kind of went through the motions.”
The Clippers have had three days to turn the page. In fact, they had time to return home to Los Angeles in between visits to Oakland and Phoenix, even though Wednesday’s game technically caps a five-game “trip.”
Griffin returned for last Tuesday’s game at Philadelphia. He’s averaged 16.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in two games since a six-week absence during which he has arthroscopic knee surgery.
The Clippers are still without star point guard Chris Paul, who underwent thumb surgery earlier this month. He isn’t expected back until March.
LA is just 3-8 without Paul in the lineup this season.
The Clippers began the season 14-2 and led the Pacific Division on Nov. 20. But they’ve struggled without Griffin and/or Paul, having gone just 16-16 since then to fall 11 games back of the Warriors.
One reason LA has been able at least to tread water the last two months has been the All-Star-caliber play of center DeAndre Jordan. The big guy leads the NBA in field goal percentage (69.3) and rebounds (13.8).
He’s already had 19-point (Oct. 31) and 20-rebound (Jan. 2) games against the Suns this season, helping the Clippers record a pair of wins.
Jordan’s visit is not good news for Suns center Tyson Chandler, who was dominated by Memphis center Marc Gasol in Monday’s 115-96 home loss to the Grizzlies.
Chandler also has had to match up with Minnesota standout Karl-Anthony Towns and Denver hotshot Nikola Jokic in a grueling past 10 days.
Like the Clippers, the Suns are coming off a loss that was nationally televised. The game was the nightcap of TNT’s Monday double-header.
If there was a bright spot for Phoenix, it was the play of rookie Marquese Chriss, who poured in a career-best 20 points.
“Somebody said I was in a slump; they said I hit the rookie wall,” Chriss told reporters after the game. “No, I’m not tired at all. My body feels good.
“Playing in the game, playing the whole first quarter, I felt good, and I’m like, “Alright, I want to play the whole second quarter.” Came out, went back in and my legs still feel fresh.”
The 19-year-old Chriss wound up playing a season-best 34 minutes, during which he became just the third teen-ager to score 20 or more points in an NBA game this season.
Phoenix’s Devin Booker (once) and Denver’s Jamal Murray (four times) had accomplished the feat previously this season.