The Phoenix Suns rushed past the LA Clippers on Sunday night with a 112-95 wire-to-wire victory over a fully healthy Clippers squad.
Phoenix’s big three got the Suns out to a quick 7-0 start — Booker sidestep three (not a shot that goes in very often for him) assisted by Paul, Paul-to-Ayton oop, and a Booker strip-and-score — prompting an early timeout from Ty Lue and the Clips. Solid start for the road team.
Cam Johnson hit an early corner three courtesy of Booker’s drive-and-kick and a second from Paul. He’s active for this one despite a hip contusion, so his overall movement and comfortability is something to monitor throughout the night.
Booker was in his entire bag throughout the first quarter, hitting bucket after bucket from every spot on the floor. A pull-up three at the 4:06 mark brought his total to 14 points in the quarter, prompting another timeout from Lue with the Suns up 24-10; Booker outscoring the Clips by 4 by himself.
Devin Armani Booker is feeling it pic.twitter.com/kg95SqSdrU— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) October 24, 2022
Suns led after one, 33-18; Booker was the only player from either side to make more than two shots in the frame.
Early in the second, the Suns’ bench had its first stretch of elite basketball — at least, elite by bench standards. Jock Landale, Damion Lee, and Landry Shamet were all key to that. I’m not sure how long it will be before I’m not surprised by Lee’s strong play, but we’re getting closer.
Once Kawhi Leonard finally made his first appearance in the game — roughly midway through the third — the Suns really struggled limiting his influence on the game. Leonard converted a coast-to-coast and-one almost immediately in his stint and added in an assist and steal over his first three and a half minutes. Even in such a short time, Leonard helped the Clippers to within 13 points of the Suns.
But the Clippers were playing small, and it was only a matter of time before the Suns were able to take advantage in the form of Ayton. He put in an and-one off of a putback rebounding over Reggie Jackson, the proverbial mouse in the house.
Suns closed out the half well, leading 61-41. Booker up to 18 in the half, and five other Suns had at least 6, a balanced effort behind Book to say the least. The Clippers’ main three scorers — George, Powell, and Leonard — combined for 23 in the half.
Clippers opened the half with both Leonard and Wall on the floor after they came off the bench to start the game, and thusly both teams threw haymakers at each other for quite a while.
Eddie Johnson made a good point on the Bally Sports Arizona broadcast that if you can withstand a team’s first few punches when they’re down, it may break them and set you free the rest of the way. That was the goal for the Suns in the third.
Despite a pretty sound quarter offensively, the Suns found their lead down to just 10 at the 2:28 mark of the third following a made three from George; the difference in the quarter being zero turnovers for the Clippers. Monty Williams called timeout to get things in order, and the Suns entered in a small ball lineup of their own — Payne, Booker, Bridges, Lee, Craig.
Lue countered with Batum at center, but it was for naught as the Suns outscored the Clippers 4-0 over the final 2:28, leading 86-72 heading into the fourth.
After a mostly invisible middle two quarters due to foul trouble, Johnson came in and got two quick buckets — one floater and one coming from deep — to help revitalize a Suns offense that had grown stagnant.
At the 4:38 mark left in the game, Booker hit a three to extend the lead out to 99-81, serving essentially as the long-term dagger, then at 2:53, Ayton’s bucket extended it to 103-88, prompting another Lue timeout. Clips would pull their guys at this timeout, Suns would stay in.
Book hit another three for good measure after seeing his substitution come to the scorers’ table, putting this one on ice. A “Let’s go Suns” chant was heard through the broadcast from LA. 112-95 is the final in the second Suns win.
- Like I mentioned in the game preview, the two early assists from Paul launch him into a new, exclusive club of 20,000 points and 11,000 assists. Paul finished the game with his career mark at 11,009. John Stockton and Jason Kidd are the only others in NBA history with at least 11,000.
- Booker has been off to a very consistent scoring start to his season, tallying 28, 33, and 35 points. Tonight brings his average to 32.0 points on 53.1/53.0/95.0 shooting and 5.3 assists per game through the first three games.
- After having only one double-digit scorer off the bench in the first two games combined, the Suns had another tonight — Payne’s 10 — and three others with at least 8 — Craig (8), Shamet (8), and Landale (9). It was easily the best game for the bench as a unit, including the preseason contests.
A prime time matchup awaits the Suns on Tuesday. Warriors come into town for a date at Footprint Center. TNT will carry the action with a 7 p.m. tip.