Clippers Snuff Out Suns in Wire-to-Wire Win
Sometimes a struggling team just needs to face a bad one to get back on track.
The Los Angeles Clippers had lost their last six games averaging just 99 points in that stretch. Facing the team with the West’s worst record, the Clippers appeared to have righted their ship in a wire-to-wire victory over the Suns.
In a matchup that never really felt out of reach until the final two minutes, the Clippers – who were without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul) took control of the game early, led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, and held on when the Suns made a late push for the 11 point victory.
Phoenix shot a terrible 39-102 for 38.2% from the field, their poor shooting generally the cause for the losing result. Their 2-15 from beyond the arc for 13.3% (Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker each made one), was literally rock bottom on the season as their 2 makes were a season low.
T.J. Warren was the statistical star for the Suns scoring 24 points on 60% shooting, adding 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and a block. He also led the Suns with a +6 in the +/- category.
The aforementioned Bledsoe and Booker shot a combined 12-42 from the field and 2-10 from three. Even with his shots not falling, Bledsoe tried carrying the team on his shoulders and continued his recent hot stretch dishing out 9 assists and grabbing 8 rebounds with 3 steals. Had even his shots been falling, the game may have played better in the Suns’ favor.
Tyson Chandler scored12 points making all 3 shots from the field and sinking 6-6 from the line, although he was held to only 6 rebounds, one off of his season low from November 16 against Denver.
Jared Dudley made a brief 5:22 appearance, his first in 5 games, missing the only shot he attempted, a three. He was also caught up in an odd play with he asked for a pass at the top of the three-point line from Tyler Ulis, who threw it way beyond Dudley across court. Only a streaking Eric Bledsoe who realized the passing mistake immediately was able to save it as it almost flew out of bounds.
In a crazy turn of events for Leandro Barbosa, in his 9:28 on the court, the Suns were outscored by 20 points.
The Clippers shot 46.8% from the field, making 2 fewer baskets though taking 23 fewer shots than the Suns. JJ Redick led the way for the Clippers with 22 points on 9-14 shooting including 3 three’s, and DeAndre Jordan recorded 20 rebounds, his fourth 20+ rebound game of the season.
Needing everybody to fill in for the ailing Chris Paul, guards Jamal Crawford, Raymond Felton, and Austin Rivers each recorded 5 assists, leading the team. DeAndre Jordan recorded the team’s only other 2 assists.
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Thoughts from the Valley of the Suns
Adam Maynes – Site Editor
The Suns did not need this win. But knowing that both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were going to be out – and the Suns were running with a full contingent – it sure felt like the Suns had a solid shot at winning.
And I suppose they did have a shot at winning, especially as they were down by only 7 points with 3:12 remaining following a layup from T.J. Warren. The moment plus the knowledge that the Suns shot 22 more field goals than the Clippers pretty much meant the Suns could have won.
But when a team shoots only 38.2% from the field and is out shot from the free throw line by 16, they are going to struggle to win, and that’s exactly what happened to Phoenix. The Suns almost literally shot themselves in the foot with their poor shooting and high fouling each of which is unfortunately a regular occurrence for this team, although not necessarily this bad.
After a loss like this, there is absolutely no fooling anybody that this Suns team can not actually be competitive in the full season. They are on pace for about 23 wins – same as last year – and when they cannot beat a star-depleted team in an arena that the television crew once tonight called a library during the game, the Suns are not going to shock anybody this season with anything terribly exciting in the win-column.
I am tired of the losing, but what is now becoming worse in my mind is that I am tired of not knowing what the heck the Suns are trying to do.
Even though the spin is that this is a young team, they are not THAT young of a young team. Their average age right now is 25.9, only .1 younger than last season’s team – and no one called last season’s team young.
It seems that Earl Watson needs to make a decision – play Booker, Ulis, Bender, and Chriss no matter how ugly it gets, or play the vets, bench those guys (even Booker when he is struggling – he was 4-15 in 33:10 with 3 turnovers and 5 fouls), and truly put the best team forward.
I do not know if the franchise mandate is to try and win by playing the veterans, but the veterans aren’t winning and the young guys aren’t getting consistent minutes at all. To really make the situation difficult to comprehend is that Earl Watson’s juggling of the lineup is about as big of a spectacle to watch as a clown trying to toss 13 balls into the air – just focus on a rotation and stick with it. Going game-to-game there is no way to know who is going to play, who is going to suddenly sit, and what rotations are going to be used. Even if his game plan is to try and play to the matchups, that doesn’t seem to be making any difference.
In the case of the 2016-17 Phoenix Suns, when trying to consider playing the vets and/or the young guns, there is no double-dipping.
As a wise-man once said “From now on, when you pick a rotation, just take one dip, and end it.”