Well, that was pretty gosh darn awesome. Not only did the Los Angeles Clippers finally get a win over the Phoenix Suns, they did it in a tidy fashion that added Channing Frye to Blake Griffin's (in)famous list of people he's posterized the living heck out of. The game wasn't perfect though, as no games really are. However, I'm not going to spend my time going over the bad, as the Clippers played a pretty solid game of basketball. More after "the jump" and if you're looking for the NBA.com box score, you can find it by clicking this tantalizing mystical blue text.I don't think I'm making a farfetched statement saying that the Clippers played pretty mediocre basketball the first quarter. Heck, the first half was pretty mediocre from both sides. Phoenix opened up the game with a Steve Nash to Marcin Gortat open-lane dunk, but Blake Griffin followed with back-to-back jumpshots and they were off to the races shortly after. Speaking of Marcin Gortat (I want that name), he has played absolutely out his mind recently. Coming from Orlando as a backup to Dwight Howard, he has definitely made his statement as an NBA center. Marcin scored a team high 23 points for Phoenix tonight, 11 of those coming from the first quarter. Throughout the 1st half, Blake and DeAndre Jordan had a terrible time managing rotations on Gortat, and was as if he was getting to the basket at will.
However, in the 2nd quarter, the Clippers shut down Phoenix's offense and forced Phoenix to go 0-13 from the field before they finally got their first bucket with 2:59 left in the quarter. One would think that the Clippers would try to capitalize on the situation that was so graciously handed to them, but is it ever that easy for the Clippers? As it turns out, the Clippers defense was so good that they forgot how to play offense, and while they held Phoenix to 14 points in the 2nd quarter, they held themselves to only 19 points. Of course, Phoenix's defense may have had something to do with it, but who knows? Regardless, the Clippers went to the locker room leading Phoenix 43-41, and the tides were slowly changing.
The 3rd quarter rolled around, and the old Caron Butler from earlier this season decided to showed up, along with Randy Foye, and both combined for an impressive 16 points in 9 minutes. The Clippers were slowly widening the gap between them and Phoenix throughout the 3rd quarter, once again playing impressive defense with solid rotations and great defensive pressure. The defensive presence also held Steve Nash to an extremely impressive 1 point. Something must have happened with the team recently, as they look reinvigorated on the defensive end. I'm not going to question it, as it has worked extremely well for the past 3 games, but I am curious as to what has changed with the team's moral recently.
By the time the 4th quarter started, the Clippers widened the lead to 10 and had no plans on letting it disappear like last game. Chris Paul dictated the whole quarter with his inhuman court vision and his ability to create shots for not only himself, but everyone else on his team as well and finished with 15 points and 15 assists. One of those assists was an absolutely beautiful bounce pass in the 4th quarter that finished with Blake Griffin posterizing someone (once again). That poor sap was Channing Frye, whose pretty decent game of 16-7-4 was overshadowed by Blake turning him into a highlight reel. That dunk didn't satisfy Blake's thirst for blood, as the following play had him finish with another dunk that led to an And-1 where he actually drained the free-throw. The 4th quarter was a thing of beauty, and quite refreshing from what we have seen from all the terrible games the Clippers have played recently.
Whatever has happened with the Clippers the past 3 games, I can't complain about it. They have blown out 2 teams in the western conference playoff race, and had a redemption blowout against the New Orleans Hornets. Watching this team as of late is, dare I say... fun? Tonight showed that the Clippers mean business heading into the playoffs and that they aren't going to let anyone get in their way. With only 16 games left in this season, they're going to have to play tough every night to try and grab the first place title in the Pacific Division from the Lakers, who are ahead only 2 games. If these past 3 games are any indication, the Lakers are going to have to watch their backs if they want that Pacific Division banner.