Suns look to end skid against red-hot Clippers

December 7, 2012

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.