Suns-Clippers Preview

Already one of the highest scoring teams in the Western

Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers have taken their offense to

another level lately.

The Clippers seek their fifth straight win on Saturday when they

host the Phoenix Suns, losers of five in a row.

Los Angeles (12-6) surpassed 100 points for the fourth straight

game on Wednesday night, cruising to a 112-90 victory over visiting

Dallas.

After averaging 94.5 points on 43.3 percent shooting during

their recent four-game losing streak, the Clippers have totaled

108.5 while connecting on 49.4 from the field in their four-game

run.

They’ve scored 29 points or more in eight of their last 11

quarters.

The Pacific Division leaders don’t figure to be slowed by the

struggling Suns (7-13), who rank last in the league in scoring

defense (102.7).

Ball security has also been a strength lately for the Clippers,

who had committed 10 turnovers or less in three straight games

before finishing with 18 against the Mavericks.

Chris Paul had only three turnovers, leaving him third in the

league with a 4.07 assist-to-turnover ratio.

The All-Star point guard, however, made a vow to keep attacking

after he had 14 points for the third consecutive game and dished

out 13 assists.

“A lot of the guys have been telling me that I need to be more

aggressive, that I’m letting guys off the hook,” Paul said.

Blake Griffin averaged 21.3 points and 10.0 rebounds against the

Suns last season, but couldn’t prevent Los Angeles from dropping

three of four meetings. He had 27 points and 14 rebounds to lead

the Clippers to a 103-86 victory on March 28 in the last meeting at

Staples Center.

Los Angeles will have to move on again without veteran guard

Chauncey Billups, who is expected to miss at least two weeks with a

foot injury.

While Billups has averaged 16.3 points in his career versus

Phoenix, the Clippers might not need him against the Suns this time

around.

After losing the last four games of their road trip, Phoenix

dropped a heartbreaker on Thursday night when O.J. Mayo hit the

go-ahead jumper with 35 seconds left to give Dallas a 97-94

win.

Markieff Morris had 15 points and a career-best 17 rebounds for

the Suns, who rallied from 15 down in the third quarter to tie it

in the final minute on “money-back guarantee night.”

“It’s always the same story,” said guard Goran Dragic, who had

15 points. “When you’re down so many points and you’re battling,

your energy is going away because you’re trying to get back in the

game.”

Aside from the breakout game by Morris, Phoenix has struggled to

get consistent production from other sources.

Marcin Gortat, who’s averaging 11.3 points per game, had three

on 1 of 8 shooting on Thursday. Michael Beasley could be on his way

out of the starting lineup after totaling 24 points on 10 of 35

shooting in his last three games.

P.J. Tucker was a candidate to take Beasley’s starting spot, but

he’s now dealing with a sprained right MCL and may not be able to

play against the Clippers.

The Suns have averaged 93.0 points during the five-game skid

after scoring 102.5 over their previous 11 contests.

They might have a tough time getting back on track against the

Clippers, who lead the NBA with 10.9 steals per game and have

allowed 88.7 points in their last three home contests.

Phoenix hasn’t lost six straight since March 3-12, 2009.