With Ty Lue back after missing three games due to COVID-19 protocols, the Clippers’ chances at achieving an upset win against the team that eliminated them in last year’s playoffs seemed decent. However, though Suns missed DeAndre Ayton’s inside presence, the star power of Devin Booker and Chris Paul proved to be too much, resulting in a 106-89 loss on the road.
The first quarter was not the prettiest, characterized by a below-40 percent shooting performance by both teams. However, the Clippers did stand out on the defensive end, with a total of three steals and one block in that period alone. They also outrebounded the Suns early, but any advantage on that end was erased by an early second-quarter run led by the Suns bench.
By the end of the half, the Clippers saw themselves in a 16-point deficit, largely due to their offensive woes. They shot just under 17 percent from distance, and less than 35 percent from the field. Despite those numbers, there were bright spots for the Clippers — Marcus Morris led the team with 13 points and Serge Ibaka served as a steadying presence when he was on the court, especially when protecting the interior.
While the Suns still controlled the game for most of the third quarter, the Clippers ended it on an impressive run that cut the lead to single digits and, more importantly, swung the momentum back in their favor. They continued to chip away and brought it to within three points in the fourth quarter, but the Suns were ultimately too much for them, led by Paul, who finished with a triple-double and a career high in rebounds.
It’s important to remember that the team has been shorthanded for a number of weeks, but with the news that Kawhi Leonard’s recovery might be quicker than initially expected, the pressure’s on to get more consistent to maximize any playoff chances they may have.