The Suns once again decided not to show up for the first half, getting down 29+ for the third time in a week.
The last two times, the Suns made a furious comeback to cut the deficit to three before bowing out, and this time they threatened to do it again but the Clippers were just too much.
The Suns bench unit ran the score back down to only an 11-point deficit with 11 minutes left in the game, but the Suns could not close the gap further until the final second, when T.J. Warren stole the inbound and scored at the buzzer.
For the Clippers, Marcin Gortat had one of his best games in a year with 16 points and 12 rebounds and really stellar defense. He followed every Clipper miss to the basket, resulting in multiple second and third efforts for the visiting team. Patrick Beverly was a pest on both ends, and frankly, I hate watching him but would have loved him in Phoenix at the same time.
In the end, it was Gortat, Beverly and Lou Williams who saved the Clippers from a Suns comeback. That’s a solid team right there.
Suns lose. Again.
Booker and Warren ended up with 20+ each, but the Suns best player was Mikal Bridges, who scored 10 with 3 assists and 3 steals, but sat a lot of the fourth quarter after he got his fourth foul at the end of the furious comeback.
Can the Suns put together four good quarters?
Some of the players came out focused, but notably Deandre Ayton was not aggressive to start. He allowed open looks and gave up loose balls right in his area.
Still, the Clippers weren’t totally engaged to start either, and De’Anthony Melton got another steal to generate some easy offense.
The Suns had an 11-8 early lead after an Ayton dunk, but gave up a quick 5-0 run to Tobias Harris prompting an Igor timeout to settle and rally the troops. Harris had seven of the Clippers first 13 points.
The timeout didn’t help much. The Clippers got up 19-13 before Kokoskov went to his bench with Elie Okobo and Josh Jackson. Which didn’t help either.
Soon the Clippers lead was 24-15. That’s a 16-4 run if you’re counting. The last play of that run included Harris following his own miss from the top of the key right to the rim for the two-hand putback, uncontested all the way.
Coming out of the timeout, with an all-new group of guys, the Suns committed two turnovers and blocked Montrezl Harrell but the block went straight to Harris who drained a corner three.
By the end of the first quarter, the Suns were down 38-19. That’s right. Yet another terrible first quarter. The Clippers finished the quarter on a 25-6 run. They made 5 of 7 threes.
The Suns starters and bench were equally bad, almost every Suns player allowing a 10-point negative swing.
The second quarter didn’t start out any better, and the Clippers lead grew to 48-26. They’re now shooting 70% from the field after 15 minutes of play.
I am really disappointed that the Suns don't understand what putting out good effort means. Getting outworked by every team. It's okay to get out-shot, but you can't allow getting outworked every time.— Dave King (@DaveKingNBA) January 5, 2019
The Suns got themselves down 63-34 at one point in the half and no one in the arena was surprised.
At halftime it was 68-44 and the Suns still didn’t look like they cared a whit about this game. No extra effort. No multiple efforts on a single defensive possession. No attacking loose balls.
Devin Booker was getting openly doubled at midcourt every time he touched the ball, and could not shake loose to make the right scoring pass out of it. And none of the Suns got themselves into his passing vision either. All were just standing around.
At halftime, the Clippers are shooting 61% and have six offensive rebounds on their misses. The Suns have... 6 defensive rebounds. There's literally no NBA game in which the rebounds are 50/50 balls.— Dave King (@DaveKingNBA) January 5, 2019
And, former Suns center Marcin Gortat drew two charges — one on a breakaway — and outplayed Ayton.
The Suns drew two fouls on their opening offensive possession, showing a bit more aggressiveness. They attacked the rim and the glass on both ends, even got a couple steals. But still couldn’t make enough shots to cut hard into the lead.
And that’s really the story here. The Suns wilted again for a while, seeing that they couldn’t cut into the lead in the span of five minutes where they truly efforted. So they gave in. The lead was back up to 28 before even Harrell and Beverly came back in the game for the Clips.
Good Night, Moon.
Oh but then the Suns did what they did on Saturday last, and on Wednesday two nights ago. They cut a 30-point deficit to near single digits, getting it down to 11 (a 24-5 run in there) before the Clippers righted their ship a bit. All with the bench unit — the same bench unit that got trucked in the first half, by the way. None of Booker, Warren or Ayton were in for any of that run.
But then Lou Williams drew a couple of fouls and the Suns had a couple bad plays and suddenly the run was over, and the Clipper lead was back to 16.
After that, the Suns just traded shots with the Clippers, just being unable to stay super-active for any longer. Might have coincided with Mikal Bridges being sat down. Igor went with a lineup of Jamal Crawford, Richaun Holmes and Josh Jackson from the bench unit, to go with Booker and Warren.
I’d love to write about a sure win here after the Suns had a 24-5 second half run. But I can’t. Sorry folks.
Clippers up 106-93 with 6 minutes left and the starters back in for both teams. Patrick Beverly decided to be everywhere. Lou Williams made all the shots. And the Suns starters just let it all happen.
When Patrick Beverly made his fourth three pointer of the game, it was all over but the last T-shirt toss.