Somehow, the Phoenix Suns won this game against the Los Angeles Clippers tonight. Not exactly sure how, but they did it. The Suns' final 4 points came on free throws on two 50-50 calls that in LA would likely have gone the other way.
The Suns are back into the 8th spot in the playoff picture after Houston lost to Eric Gordon's New Orleans Hornets. And that's all that matters. The Suns' playoff hopes are alive.
But I digress. Back to the Suns beating the Clippers for the third time in four tries this season.
The key to the game? Sebastian Telfair's defense in the last 2:21 on Chris Paul. Sure, Paul scored the Clippers' last 6 points (4 on free throws) but Telfair was in Paul's grill the whole time, grinding the Clippers' offensive flow to a halt. And, of course, he blocked Paul's last shot right out of bounds. Boo yah!
The Suns bigs rebounded nicely from the other night. Marcin Gortat scored 14 points on 6 of 11 shooting, along with 14 rebounds and 2 assists. Channing Frye had 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists, while Robin Lopez made his presence known in the paint and Markieff Morris contributed 5 points and 7 boards on his own. The biggest thing was that each big man fought for every rebound and made their presence known in the paint.
Blake Griffin, after an easy 14 points in the game's first 10 minutes, scored only 2 more points thereafter (on free throws) and endured more hard fouls than open shot attempts. Frye and Lopez both hit him under the rim, and Dudley got in his grill on a loose ball.
Jared Dudley's foul was the first turning point in the game, to me. After the scuffle, Duds (18 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds) was hit with a T and the Suns were down 7 or 8 points. But then the team and the crowd seemed to come alive at that point, just when the Clippers seemed poised to pull away.
This Suns team is resilient and fiesty. They find a way to score and defend just enough to win games. Since the All-Star break, they are now 21-11 which is better than less than a handful of teams in the league.
The Suns did not play their best game tonight. In fact, I'm still trying to figure out just how they won. But win they did, and the playoffs are getting closer and closer.
Game balls go to Sebastian Telfair (13 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds and a big block) and Jared Dudley. Without them, the Suns lose this game in a big way.