The Phoenix Suns finished their 4-game road trip in Los Angeles on Thursday night, and they left with a much needed win in their pocket, defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 111-95. It really wasn’t that close as Phoenix improved to 17-12.
Phoenix was led in scoring by Mikal Bridges who dropped 27. Chris Paul returned to LA and had 15 points, 13 assists, and 7 boards. Josh Okogie looked stellar on both sides of the floor, earning a double-double with his effort. Jock Landale also had a double-double off the bench, scoring 15 and grabbing 10 boards. And bending one rim.
The Clippers were led by Terrance Mann’s 22 points (he also had 11 rebounds) and Moses Brown’s 12 rebounds.
Devin Booker returned, and while his shooting woes continued (he shot 6-of-22 overall, 1-of-9 from deep, 14 points), it was good to see #1 on the court and not in a trucker hat. Because there were plenty of trucker hats out there tonight...
Prior to tipoff, the Suns announced that Devin Booker would suit up for the matchup, whereas Deandre Ayton would not due to an ankle injury. Bismack Biyombo would start in his place.
The Clippers would be without numerous players, including Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Ivica Zubac, and Reggie Jackson. And Luke Kennard. And Norman Powell.
One of the season's longest injury reports for the Clippers:— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) December 15, 2022
Paul George (left knee soreness), Kawhi (no B2Bs), Reggie Jackson (Achilles' inflammation) and Norm Powell all will not play tonight vs. PHX.
Questionable are Zubac (left knee contusion) and Kennard (calf soreness)
The Suns have been struggling in the first half since December 5, shooting 36.7% from the field and 25% from deep, both last in the NBA. If you start that slow for that long, you’re going to lose games.
The script was flipped on Thursday night as the Suns shot 54.2% from the field and sniping 37.5% from beyond the arc against a depleted and young Los Angeles team. The Clippers looked like the Suns of late, shooting 29.5% from the field in the first half.
Devin Booker looked much better coming off of his hamstring injury that sidelined him for two games. Since December 5, he ad been shooting 24.1% from the field in the first half and 28.6% from three. He scored 12 first half points on 5-of-12 shooting. He even had a reverse slam dunk, something you don’t often see in his repertoire.
The carried an 11-point lead into the second quarter after receiving solid first-quarter play from Josh Okogie and Damian Lee, both who put the ball on the floor and attacked the cylinder rather than settling for three-point shots.
The second team unit had prep in their step defensively and did a solid job of using their athleticism to force the Clippers into tough shots. Sure, it was against the likes of Moussa Diabate and Jason Preston, but it was a welcomed sight for weary eyes.
Mikal Bridges provided a solid contribution, leading all Suns with 14 points, doing so with an efficient 6-of-9, adding 3 boards, a steal, and a block. The Suns entered the half with a sizeable lead, up 64-37 at the end of two.
The second half begin much like the first ended: with the Suns hitting shots and the undermanned Clippers not. It was a familiar sight, seeing as it has been the Suns for the past week who had plenty of one-and-done possessions.
Sometimes you have to freak a 1 to feel like a 10 again— Suns JAM Session Podcast (@SunsJAM) December 16, 2022
Josh Okogie has been one of the lone bright spots for the Suns over the past week+. His defensive motor, coupled with his new found ability to score points (remember, he was a career 6.4 point scorer when Phoenix brought him in), has equated to minutes for the 5th year player.
Okogie had a double-double on Thursday, scoring 11 points and inhaling 11 boards. His hustle on the defensive side of the ball is being rewarded, and he is putting up some impressive highlights along the way.
Josh Okogie is RELENTLESS. pic.twitter.com/D8SkkYgltf— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) December 16, 2022
The Clippers put together a 14-0 run during the third quarter, shrinking the lead to 17 points after being up as much as 31 points. The Suns looked liked the team we’ve seen this December as they became ice-cold from the field. They ended up shooting 33.3% in the third period and 3-of-12 from deep.
Devin Booker was 0-of-7 in Q3. Still, the Suns held a 19-point lead into Q4, up 89-70 after three.
We saw a different Suns attack tonight, as noted above, as they made it a point to pressure the interior of the Clippers. With 7:53 left in the game, and up 19, Phoenix entered the bonus.
Not much to the end of this game. The Suns kept the Clippers at arms length, winning easily and snapping their 5-game losing streak.
This was a much needed victory for Phoenix. Not only to keep their standing in the Western Conference, but to remind us all that everything is going to be okay. It’s a long regular season and there will be other valleys and other peaks. You have to take it all in stride.
Get you some friends like the Fellas. pic.twitter.com/ndY93RITCj— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) December 16, 2022
You ready to see the New Orleans Pelicans again? I’m sure you are. Phoenix comes home on Saturday, playing the Suns for the final time during the regular season. The Pelicans lost tonight at home against the Utah Jazz. Can the Suns fare better?
I’ll see you then, Bright Side.