After DeAndre Jordan was ejected for a hard foul on Marquese Chriss in the third quarter, the Phoenix Suns got new life in the game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers, already down Chris Paul, now had to rely on Blake Griffin - in only his third game back from a long-term injury himself. Griffin looked sublime in the opening quarter, but didn’t keep that bounce in the middle quarters.
The Clippers attacked the Suns rookies and Devin Booker all game, but the Suns kept it close enough to know a lead could happen if they played the right way.
Eric Bledsoe was a beast all game (30 points after three quarters), and P.J. Tucker made a big difference with his energy.
The Suns pulled back to within three in some great hustle ending in an open three by Booker.
Phoenix worked hard but a Redick banker three and some other shots just went the wrong way and the Suns aren't good enough to overcome that.
Blake Griffin had a heck of a game, but so did the supporting cast of the Clippers. Five Clippers had 12+ points, while only three Suns got into double digits.
Tucker had a double double, while Devin Booker added 20 (his 14th straight) and 6 assists.
But Eric Bledsoe was the player of the game for the Suns, with 41 huge points (his 3rd in the last week+) and 8 assists. He played the entire second half and 40 minutes overall.
Clippers win, 124-114
The Suns started off really poorly, getting down 14-4 quickly as the Clippers went to Blake Griffin every time (just about) and the Suns went to Marquese Chriss, who doesn’t realize DeAndre Jordan’s skill set.
Chriss started the game 0-6 from the field in the first 6 minutes of play. Let that sink in. Started by missing a couple of threes and a couple putbacks (though I’m pretty sure he was pushed in the back on each), then went after Jordan twice and, well, did not succeed in any way. Chriss finally scored on a pick-and-roll.
The quarter got to be a Blake Griffin and every else show, and not much Suns highlights. I won’t sicken you with the Blake highlights here, but you oughta look for them somewhere online. He’s a pretty good player.
After one, the Clippers were shooting 66% to the Suns 38%.
Somehow Clips only up 38-31, thanks to taking 7 more shots off offensive rebounds.
The best thing about the opening of the second quarter was Dragan Bender playing again. He had lots of energy, made some good hustle plays but couldn’t finish a bunny and overshot a three before settling in a bit.
And then Clippers seemed to attack Bender on nearly every possession, getting him isolated on Rivers or Jamal Crawford. The first couple times, Rivers passed off but then he mostly attacked Bender’s body on a drive or backed into a three. Crawford toasted Bender, rocking him into enough space to get that pretty shot off.
Still, Bender showed well, finishing with 5 points, 2 rebounds and an assist - and a +1 on the scoreboard. Pretty good overall.
Brandon Knight came in too, and well he was Brandon Knight. He went 0-3 from the field, though just like Bender was a +1. Leandro Barbosa was a big difference maker with 9 points off the bench, while P.J. Tucker was all over the court to contest everything.
The Suns starters even chipped into the lead a bit, and by halftime it was just 62-59 Clippers.
Eric Bledsoe had 16 points and 2 assists, while Devin Booker had 5 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds, but the Suns were still at 38% shooting at halftime while the Clippers were at 59%.
I don't know how this isn’t a 20-point Clippers lead right now.
(Actually, maybe it’s the 14 offensive rebounds giving the Suns 20 second-chance points)
The Suns came out cold again, and let the Clippers take a big lead.
They still were up 12 when DeAndre Jordan got ejected for a particularly hard foul on Marquese Chriss. Jordan and the Clips had been especially physical with the Suns youngest players all game, culminating with the Jordan foul that everyone saw as clearly as it was. Jordan felt bad afterward, but that didn’t take away from the foul.
Let’s see what the Suns come up with.
The Suns finished the quarter on a 15-9 run and then cut the lead to one at 94-93 before the Clippers recovered to a 5-point lead on a pair of Brandon Bass turnaround jumpers.
The Suns later cut it to 2, but then the Clippers stretched it back out to 7 at 105-98.
The Suns just couldn't get over the hump against the veteran Clippers, who got real physical every time the Suns got close. For the Suns, Tucker was the only guy giving it back.