Notebook: Clippers 117, Suns 99

Posted Dec 8, 2012 6:43 PM

By Dan Arritt, for

THE FACTS: For three quarters Saturday afternoon, the Suns nearly matched the Clippers point for point. Then the fourth quarter arrived and Jamal Crawford and his fellow L.A. reserves went to work, leaving Phoenix in the dust in the 117-99 victory at Staples Center, the team's fifth consecutive victory.

THE STAT: Crawford came into the game leading the league in fourth-quarter scoring at 7.9 points a game, ahead of both Kevin Durant of the Thunder (7.7) and Kobe Bryant of the Lakers (7.5). He scored 13 of his 21 points in the final 12 minutes, helping the Clippers outscore the Suns, 32-16, in that span. Crawford also extended his league lead of 20-point games off the bench to 10. No other reserve in the NBA has more than five. The Clippers are 8-2 when Crawford scores at least 20 points.

QUOTABLE: "Thank the bench, because our starters are struggling."
-- Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro.

TURNING POINT: With the Clippers leading by two points at the start of the fourth, Crawford scored the first seven points for L.A. to push the lead to 92-85, matching their biggest advantage of the game. Eric Bledsoe and Lamar Odom followed with baskets to extend the lead to 11 and the Suns never got closer than nine.

HOT: Nearly lost in another dazzling display by Crawford was a fine all-round performance by Clippers forward Blake Griffin. He finished with a team-high 24 points and filled up the remaining stat columns with eight rebounds, four assists and a career-high four steals, all in the first half. Odom also continued to round into shape. He scored a season-high eight points and also contributed eight rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes.

QUOTABLE II: "He wants it and I believe in him. I'm going to keep pushing him. I'm going to keep making him work and he's going to keep doing work."
-- Del Negro on Odom.

NOT: The Suns committed a season-high 20 turnovers, resulting in 30 points for the Clippers. Phoenix had a good night from the 3-point line until the fourth quarter, when they missed all eight attempts and finished 9 for 24 (37.5 percent). The Suns have lost six straight games for the first time since March 2009.

GOOD MOVE: Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry decided to move struggling small forward Michael Beasley to the bench and put Jared Dudley back in the starting lineup. The move seemed to motivate Beasley, as he scored 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting. He matched his career high by making four 3-pointers on seven attempts. Beasley has played well against the Clippers in his career, averaging 20.1 points in 10 career games before Saturday. The Clippers are one of only two NBA teams that Beasley averages more than 20 points against. The other is Sacramento (20.3).

BAD MOVE: Phoenix back-up center Jermaine O'Neal is trying to salvage a career that has gone south the last three seasons. He certainly didn't help his cause by picking up back-to-back technical fouls with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, further contributing to L.A.'s game-clinching run.

NOTABLE: The 117 points was a season high for the Clippers and the 63 first-half points also represented a season best for any half this season. L.A. is averaging 110.2 points in their five-game winning streak...The Clippers also recorded a season-high 64 points in the paint. ... The Clippers, who came into the game leading the league in steals at 10.9, had 12 more against Phoenix.

UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Sunday vs. Toronto, Tuesday @ Chicago, Wednesday @ Charlotte. For the Suns, Sunday vs. Orlando, Wednesday vs. Memphis, Friday vs. Utah.