It was hardly a fair fight, but the Los Angeles Clippers thoroughly dismantled the beleaguered Phoenix Suns on Monday evening at Staples Center. With the exception of the first half of the second quarter, the Clippers were fantastic on both offense and defense. The Clippers won this game in a variety of ways. They completed 13 out of 24 three-point attempts (54.2%) and made 55% of their field goals. In contrast, the Suns only made 35.2% of their field goals and just 29.2% of their three-pointers. The Clippers had 29 assists compared to 20 from the Suns. Los Angeles had 10 blocks, while Phoenix had just two. The Clippers also won the rebound battle (53 vs. 41) and had more points in the paint (52 vs. 26). The Clippers had every facet of their game working for them, while the Suns had nothing going outside of five minutes in the second quarter. This decisive victory was exactly what the Clippers needed to wash away the bitter taste of their loss on Saturday night to the Golden State Warriors.
The starters were absolutely fantastic throughout the game and did not take their lottery-bound opponent for granted. They came out on fire in the first quarter, taking a 36-17 lead after 12 minutes. However, the Clippers' bench was wretched in the first half of the second quarter. They could not stop the Suns, and they could not score. Phoenix erased the Clippers' 19-point lead on a 16-1 run. At this point, the Clippers clung to a four point lead. The Clippers' first field goal of the quarter came on a J.J. Redick layup at 6:38. It was ugly to watch, but the return of the starters restored some order to the game. Surprisingly, after their miserable start to the quarter, the Clippers were ultimately outscored by a mere two points (25-23) in that period. The Clippers led 59-42 at the half. The third quarter saw stout defense and offensive fireworks from the home team, and the fourth quarter was extended garbage time. With a final score of 124-84, the Clippers earned their largest margin of victory this season, and they sent the Suns whirling to their twelfth straight loss.
A few players on the Clippers deserve some special recognition. DeAndre Jordan was fabulous. He scored 17 points (6 of 9 from the field), grabbed 11 rebounds, and blocked four shots. He was a huge difference maker on both ends of the court, especially in the third quarter. Jordan also showed off some nifty post moves that period, and he was featured in a couple of excellent highlight plays. For example, he threw down this particularly ferocious dunk:
Another 1 https://t.co/3fuuUmyRKG— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 23, 2016
Although the bench did not play so well in the second quarter, they were much better in the second half. Jeff Green looked much more comfortable this game, scoring 18 points (6 of 10 from the field) and collecting 5 boards. Wesley Johnson (11 points, 8 rebounds) also played well in the second half. C.J. Wilcox got some burn in the fourth quarter and so did Alex Stepheson, a big man signed from the D-League on a 10-day contract. Stepheson, a Los Angeles native, scored his first NBA points this game. Congratulations to him.
Not much can be said about the Suns, considering the lopsided score. Mirza Teletovic was a bit of a bright spot, making 3 out of 5 three-pointers. Reserve guard Phil Pressey, signed on a 10-day contract, dished out 10 assists and played some pesky defense. However, while the Suns got the score quite close in the second quarter, the outcome of the game was truly never in doubt. Even with Griffin and Rivers unable to play, the Clippers have much more talent than the injury-ravaged Suns do at the moment.
The Clippers will next take the court on Wednesday night at Staples Center against the Denver Nuggets.