The Phoenix Suns got off to a slow start against a hot-shooting Clippers team and were not able to complete the comeback. The Clippers took the win by a final score of 131-122 at the Footprint Center.
It was all Clippers early, as they led by 15-to-20 points for most of the first half. The Suns looked lost offensively and it could’ve easily been a 30+ point drubbing, but they came out with some fire in the second half.
Bol Bol looked good, and the Suns offense clicked in the second half, totaling 71 points in the 3rd and 4th quarters. It was a valiant effort, but ultimately too little too late, especially in a game without superstar Kevin Durant. Devin Booker scored 28 of his 35 points in the second half, powering the Suns to make it a contest until the Clippers put the finishing touch on them.
Devin Booker - 35 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds on 11-15 FG in 37 minutes.
Bradley Beal - 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals on 7-20 FG in 41 minutes.
Paul George - 33 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals on 8-14 FG in 37 minutes.
Kawhi Leonard - 28 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals on 9-16 FG in 40 minutes.
The opening quarter started in the Clippers’ favor immediately. Their hot shooting and ball movement was carving the Suns’ defense up. Los Angeles jumped out to a 24-13 lead in the first 7:15, leading to a Suns timeout.
After the timeout, things didn’t look much better as the Clippers went on a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 17 by a score of 30-13.
A quick 5-0 run got Phoenix within 12 which led to a timeout from Ty Lue. The Clippers finished the quarter strong and took a 15-point lead into the second quarter leading 35-20.
The Suns opened up the second with an impressive 11-4 run to force an LAC timeout. They were led by Chimezie Metu and Bol Bol in the Beal-Gordon-Okogie-Metu-Bol lineup.
The Clippers matched just about every run Phoenix would make to cut the lead down.
Phoenix’s slow start could be attributed to the 3-13 (23.1%) shooting from deep while the Clippers were 9-17 (52.9%) from three through the first 22 minutes.
A struggling and frustrated Devin Booker picked up a technical foul followed by a Kawhi Leonard drive to the rim extending the LA lead to 19 with 1:50 left in the 2nd quarter. LA’s blitzing and attack of Booker defensively made him uncomfortable in the first half of action.
Heading into the half the Suns trailed nineteen points, 70-51. It was a struggle, to say the least. Phoenix got three points at the free-throw line from Beal in the final seconds, otherwise, they would’ve trailed by 21 points.
The Suns’ offense started strong early, but the Clippers just kept knocking down tough shots matching every punch Phoenix threw. The difficult shot-making was a theme for Los Angeles all night long, sometimes you just gotta tip the cap.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were tormenting the Suns, rarely missing any of their looks while playing intense defense. The Suns simply could not stop the Clippers’ offensive attack.
On a positive note, Bradley Beal looked impressive tonight, slashing aggressively to the basket and providing rim pressure. He cooled down a bit in the second half, but his energy was apparent early on.
Devin Booker turned it up a notch in the 3rd quarter, exploding for 19 points after scoring just 7 first-half points. The Suns had a 40-point quarter yet still trailed by 16 points heading into the final quarter, 107-91.
The Suns have looked incredible offensively this quarter but the Clippers just simply cannot miss.— Zona (@AZSportsZone) January 4, 2024
Can't make up ground without stringing stops together.
In the final quarter of action opened the same as the second and third quarter went with the Clippers matching every punch thrown their way. As Eddie Johnson put it, it was simply their night.
Things got weird five minutes into the quarter. The Suns won a challenge that took away three free throws away from James Harden on a Josh Okogie contest. Then, they took Kawhi’s shot away (shot clock violation) from a previous possession capped off by a Bol Bol putback after winning the tip post-challenge.
The 7-point swing was a massive momentum shift that brought energy back into the building.
Phoenix cut the lead down to eight with just over four minutes remaining after a Devin Booker triple. A Norman Powell three quickly got it back to an 11-point game, serving as a dagger, especially after the Suns turned it over the following possession.
The Suns had a chance to make things interesting, but the Clippers just would not relent. On to the next one.
Phoenix Suns vs. Miami Heat — 7 p.m. on Friday at the Footprint Center.