Clippers use stifling defense to pull away from Suns
Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers are known for their offense. But it was a stifling defense late Sunday night that made the difference against the Phoenix Suns.
Blake Griffin and Paul scored 23 points each and the Clippers used a 15-0 fourth-quarter run to beat the Suns 120-100 for their fourth straight win.
Los Angeles held Phoenix to one field goal over the final 7:58.
”Everyone knows our offense is good,” Paul said. ”It’s really good. When we get stops, we’re a tough team to beat.”
J.J. Redick scored 20 and DeAndre Jordan added 18 for the Clippers, who are 3-0 against the Suns this season. Los Angeles has won nine of its past 11 against Phoenix.
”We’re really a team,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. ”We’ve done it (win) so many ways. That’s who we are.”
Jordan also blocked four shots.
”The stats say he had four but that can’t be right,” said Suns coach Jeff Hornacek. ”It seemed like he had 14. He’s a big influence down there and, again, we’ve got to be aware of where he’s at.”
The Suns had whittled a one-time 13-point lead down to 96-94 with 7:30 left on consecutive 3-pointers by Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green.
Then came the Clippers’ game-clinching run. Redick hit a 3-pointer, Paul scored five straight points, Griffin added a 20-footer and Jordan made 7 of 12 free throws down the stretch as Los Angeles scored 15 unanswered points.
”They played better,” Hornacek said. ”Chris Paul made plays. We rushed a couple at that time, had a turnover. You cut it to four, you’ve got a little bit of a chance. But you’ve got to be solid and we weren’t.”
Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points and Eric Bledsoe added 17 for the Suns, who have lost two straight after winning seven in a row at home.
”We made a comeback,” Thomas said. ”We were in the game and then we made some key mistakes. You can’t have little things like that happen against a good team like this. We kept having little mistakes and they capitalized on every little mistake we need.”
Marcus Morris gave the Suns a 64-63 lead on a layup with 7:47 to go in the third quarter. But the Clippers, led by a 20-foot step-back jumper from Griffin and five points from Paul, outscored Phoenix 11-1 over the next two minutes to open a 74-65 lead.
Spencer Hawes gave the Clippers their biggest lead to that point, 85-72, with 1:52 left in the third with consecutive 3-pointers.
Clippers: Griffin shot 11 of 19 from the floor and added seven assists and six rebounds. … The Clippers won for only the second time in eight road games when trailing at halftime. Phoenix led 57-55 at the half. … Los Angeles, which hosts Denver on Monday, is 5-6 in the first half of back-to-back games this season. … Matt Barnes, who entered the game averaging 9.8 points per game, finished with four on 1-for-9 shooting, including 0 for 4 from 3-point range. He also was hit with a technical foul after getting called for an offensive foul in the second.
Suns: The Suns fell to 4-2 over the first six games of their franchise-high eight-game homestand. … Thomas scored 17 of his 25 in the fourth quarter. … Bledsoe has had at least 17 points and six assists in a career-best four straight games. … Phoenix was without reserve forward Brandan Wright, out with a sore foot. … G Goran Dragic played the second half with a golf ball size knot on his right elbow. Dragic collided with Clippers guard Chris Paul and fell hard to the court late in the first half, leading to the swelling.
GET A ”T”, GRAB SOME PINE
Phoenix forward Markieff Morris was whistled for a technical foul following a play on which he was pushed in the air while on a fast break by the Clippers’ Matt Barnes. Morris sank both free throws and played another 33 seconds before going to the bench, where he spent the final 21 minutes-plus of the game. Morris is the second Suns player in two games to be benched after getting a technical. Goran Dragic sat out nearly all of the second half on Friday after he was whistled. ”It’s driving us all crazy with the technicals,” said Suns coach Jeff Hornacek. ”It’s aggravating. We’re arguing on calls that we even get.”
CLIPS’ JORDAN KEEPS ROLLING
Jordan, who entered the game shooting 86.8 percent from the floor in his last five games, was 5 for 5 on Sunday. Jordan’s range slipped only at the free-throw line, where he tossed up an air ball in the first quarter. Jordan, who is on pace to post the highest single season field goal percentage in league history, raised his percentage to 73.3.