After averaging 28-point losses over the last four seasons in this same exact situation — against the Clippers on the back end of a home and away back to back — the Suns this time decided not to go quietly into that blowout.
At least for a half.
The first half, a 49-49 tie, was buoyed by the suddenly confident rookie Elie Okobo who was the spark, with 12 first half points and three assists, to make sure the Suns had a fighting chance in this game.
Clippers mammoth center Boban Marjanovic was a real problem for the Suns, especially Deandre Ayton, as the surprise starter for the injured Marcin Gortat.
The Clippers made 10 of their first 18 three point shots, including Danilo Gallinari making his first four while getting to the line ten times. The Clips game plan was to get Booker switched onto the 6’9” 235 pound Gallo as often as possible. It worked for them a lot, but Gallo was making shots over everyone.
Gallo had 27 points after only three quarters. Boban had a 12 and 12. Lou Williams had 15 off the bench after three as well.
- Elie Okobo is MUCH more confident now, after some time to learn the plays in G-League. Okobo had a career high 19 points, 4 assists and 3 steals in 31 good minutes.
- Josh Jackson was hot and cold, but mostly good for the second night in a row. That’s a nice development. Josh had 15 points and 7 rebounds but also had 5 fouls.
- Richaun Holmes had crazy energy AGAIN. Love to watch this guy play.
Suns: Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Trevor Ariza, T.J. Warren and Deandre Ayton
Clippers: Avery Bradley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari and Boban Marjanovic
Doesn’t it feel like the Suns always get the Clippers on the back end of a home and away back to back, and lose by 30+?
Well, that’s because it’s true.
Last year, they lost by 42 in the third game of the season on the BEHABABA, preceding Eric Bledsoe and Earl Watson’s “I Dont wanna be here” and then (not a back to back but still in LA) by 18 just before Christmas after being down 25 in the third quarter.
In 2016, it was the 4th game of the season that was the back end of home and away back-to-back, and an 18-point loss.
A season before, it was the 56th game that was BEHABABA, and a 40-point loss.
A season before THAT, it was on November 17th and a 13-point loss.
That’s four straight losses, all against the Clippers in LA, by an average margin of a 28 point loss.
Tonight, it’s the 21st game of the season we get the Clipper BEHABABA, so the broken record continues to skip. For the FIFTH year in a row.
But this time, the Suns weren’t in the mood to be blown out.
The Suns looked unsure of themselves to start the game, getting down 18-11 while letting Boban Marjanovic have 6 points and 9 rebounds in the opening 8 minutes.
But the Suns didn’t die. They fought back to a 20-20 tie on an Elie Okobo mini-run and still had a 49-49 tie at halftime.
Devin Booker had 13 points at half despite getting two early fouls, while the star was Elie Okobo with 12 points and 3 assists off the bench.
Marjanovic got into Deandre Ayton’s head big time. Ayton had only two points and five rebounds at half.
Ah the third quarter was not nearly as kind to the Suns, with the Clippers going on a 21-7 run from the 10:08 mark when the game had been until that point a 55-54 dogfight.
The 5-minute, FIVE threes 21-7 run by the Clippers that ignited the crowd and stretched out the score.
Game pretty much over.
After giving up only 49 points in the first half, the Suns surrendered 40 in the third quarter alone.
The fourth quarter was just playing out the clock.