Lopez's Huge Night Keys Suns Victory Over Clippers, 125-112

This kid can play (Photo by Max Simbron)

Tonight, Robin Lopez scored a career high 30 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. The team he plays for, your Phoenix Suns, won the basketball contest by 13 points, beating the Clippers of Los Angeles 125-112.

Note the effect created by the order of my words, because I am attempting to make a point. The Suns didn't really play that great tonight, but Robin obviously did. It was a dominating performance from the youngste on both ends of the floor, one that frustrated Chris Kaman enough to cause him temporary insanity and Drew Gooden enough to go flagrant in the fourth quarter. 

The Suns enjoyed an 8 point lead at the end of one after both Lopez and STAT started quickly (10 and 9 points respectively). But the second unit gave that lead away as the Clippers reeled off 6 quick points. Craig Smith scored 8 of the Clips first 10 points as LA tied the score up at 40 with 8 minutes remaining. The starters returned to the game and Robin Lopez dropped 9 points in the quarter as the Suns regained the lead 63-59 at the close of the first half.

In the third it was more Lopez and less Chris Kaman as the Clippers center picked up a technical foul 20 seconds into the third quarter. His second technical came seconds after during a dead ball and the Clippers best chance at winning the game disappeared. Amare Stoudemire scored 9 points, Steve Nash tallied 5 assists and the Suns held the Clippers to 38% shooting as they outscored the Clippers 33-27 and extended their lead to 10 points.

In the fourth, the Suns pulled away off of Channing Frye's 13 points (3 3-pointers), while Grant Hill and Jared Dudley also added 3's and Goran Dragon Dragic posted 8 assists. 

 

Bullet Worthy

  • The Clippers were led by Eric Gordon's 25 points.  Travis Outlaw added 18 and Craig Smith 16. Drew Gooden added 15 and 9 for the Clippers
  • Grant Hill put up 18 points and grabbed 6 rebounds, Amare Stoudemire went for 20 (not mentioning 3 rebounds), Jared Dudley added 12 while Goran Dragic answered everyone's call for assists with 10 in 20 minutes.
  • The Suns have won five straight for the second time in their past 13 games, dating back to January 28.
  • The Suns are 6-1 since the All-Star break, tied with Dallas and Chicago for best record in the NBA since the break
  • The Suns have won 14 straight home games versus a Pacific Division foe. They are 7-0 this year versus the Pacific at home. One more victory would enable the Suns to go undefeated at home vs. the Pac for the first time since 1988-89.
  • The Suns have won 9 straight games in which they have led by double digits.

Some Commentary

The Suns didn't play a whole lot of defense tonight. There were some exceptions in the first quarter where Amare was pretty active, getting his hands on some entry passes and shots, and Robin held Kaman in check. But the Suns were shooting good enough to take a more substantial lead through the first three quarters. Unfortunately they couldn't get many stops until the 4th. Rotations were often late (or nonexistent), and the Suns defense on the Clippers guards was spotty.  The Clippers scored more fast break points in the first quarter tonight than they had in two whole previous games.

Offensively, the Suns got production from nearly everyone. Lopez was dominant and Frye and Dudley were excellent in the fourth quarter. Amare was a kind of ghost in that he was there and pretty active, but by the end of the game, he was an after thought compared to Lopez. He made some good shots from outside, but the Clippers bigs made him work pretty hard for what he got in the paint. Steve Nash is still ailing. He went 1-7. That doesn't happen much for him. We've seen him enough over the years to know that when his back is bothering him, he can usually still pass out assists, but his shot is not there. Sometimes he won't oven shoot if he's hurting bad enough....

There were some sick plays tonight:

  • Nash to Stat alleyoop (haven't seen that in awhile)
  • Nash behind the back to J Rich for the dunk
  • Amare facial on Kaman
  • Amare fake, sending his defender off to the right as he spinned and dropped a 17 footer.
  • Even the Clips got into the act. Travis Outlaw had a nice behind the head dunk. (Was it Outlaw?)

Quotable

Robin Lopez

"I just try to be very efficient out there. Whenever my teammates ran an option, I've just got to put the ball in the basket and shoot with that kind of efficiency; it just tells me I'm doing my job out there."

Alvin Gentry

"Our defense was not so good. They did a lot of penetration and we didn't do a very good job of keeping them out of the paint tonight...Obviously Robin played really well for us and did a really good job of getting out to the paint and coming up with rebounds and finishing plays. He's getting a lot better at being able to catch it and finish plays."

Grant Hill on Lopez

"We have a lot of weapons but he's actually making plays. He's impressed me, not just tonight but the last 10 games, he gets a lot of offensive rebounds and put backs and really does a great job on the screen and roll, he rolls hard when Steve delivers, and just finishing at the rim. His shot is really developing." 

 

Jared Dudley on what else? His second dunk of the season

"I was at least 35 inches off the ground. I wanted to make sure to slow down so it wouldn't be declared a technical foul. I was thinkin' of throwin it off the glass, but I just said, 'I'm gonna relax, I'm gonna take the two hand."

Next up, @Spurs, Sunday 11 AM MST.

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