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Clippers vs. Suns preview and game thread: LA look to bounce back with road win

Lue’s crew seek first victory of 2021.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Clippers will look to grab their second win away from Los Angeles this season as they take on the red-hot Phoenix Suns Sunday evening.

The Clippers are coming off a six-point loss to the Utah Jazz on New Year’s Day that was far more lopsided than the scoreline suggests. At one point they were down by 20 and trailed the final three and a half quarters, although they narrowed the deficit to one point late in the game before the game slipped away for good.

And while the Jazz have recently been a tough matchup for the Clips, the next opponent probably won’t be pushovers, either.

Game information

Where: Phoenix Suns Arena, Phoenix, Arizona

When: Sunday, Jan. 3, 5:00 p.m. PT

How to watch/listen: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570 LA Sports

Projected starting lineups

Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka

Suns: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Deandre Ayton

Injuries/absences

Clippers: Marcus Morris Sr. (sore right knee), Jay Scrubb (foot surgery) — OUT

Suns: Jalen Smith (left ankle), Abdel Nader (concussion) — OUT

Phoenix have surged ahead of the Clippers to 1st place in the Pacific Division with a 5-1 record, most recently beating the Denver Nuggets in Denver on Thursday. The big change in the offseason is a familiar face, Chris Paul, joining up following an offseason trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s joined forces with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton to try and mount a challenge to the top of the Western Conference this season. So far, they are clicking against a fairly strong slate of opponents.

Paul George has been terrific so far this season, dropping 25 in the loss, and even with the cumbersome face mask he’s been wearing Kawhi Leonard has been putting up buckets. Despite the loss against the Jazz, LA do seem to be learning how to play together in tough moments, judging from the team playing their way back into the game down the stretch and nearly stealing a win. Most of the games they’ve been involved in this season have been lopsided results, and to be fair, it’s quite likely we’ll see a lot of blowouts in the coming months. Still, when we see crunch time in the playoffs, some experience in tight games should be good preparation for the games that truly count, and I think this game could be a close one.

You know CP3 will be up for this one, and LA will hopefully be able to match that energy against a tough opponent that will aim to surpass them as title contenders this season. Bring it on.

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