THE FACTS: The Phoenix Suns could compete with the visiting Los Angeles Clippers Sunday night....until the teams starting reaching for their reserves.
Once the bench players started entering the game, the deeper Clippers started to roll to an easy 103-77 win, extending their franchise record to 13 straight. They also set a franchise record with their sixth straight road win.
"They're probably the best team in the league," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said before tipoff. "They're playing like it now."
After the opening six minutes or so, they played like it Sunday night.
The Clippers (21-6) rolled up a 58-43 halftime lead, then extended it to 91-60 when Blake Griffin nailed a 3-pointer to beat the third quarter buzzer.
Griffin and reserve Jamal Crawford each shot 8-for-12 with Griffin scoring 23 and Crawford 22.
Jared Dudley led the Suns (11-17) with 19 points.
Told of Gentry's comments, Chris Paul (17 points, 13 assists), said, "We appreciate that, but we are just trying to be consistent. We are playing hard and playing together."
Late in the second quarter, Gentry drew two technical fouls and an ejection. Gentry and the Suns already appeared to be in a foul mood after the previous night's game in Portland, when the Suns' starters got a combined two free throws. Suns reserve Michael Beasley sat out with an illness.
"We caught Phoenix on a good night (for the Clippers), a tough back-to-back coming from Portland," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said.
QUOTABLE: "They've got the best bench in the league...with (Eric) Beldsoe, (Lamar) Odom and (Matt) Barnes...The jump Bledsoe has made from last year is phenomenal...He may be the most improved player in the league. No reason they shouldn't be optimistic about their chances for winning a championship."
-- Gentry on the Clippers.
THE STAT: The Clippers' reserves shot 16-for-30 for 47 points. The Suns' reserves shot 10-for-31 for 25 points.
TURNING POINT: The Suns Goran Dragic picked up his second foul, a bad one 40 feet from the defensive basket with the Suns leading 14-12 midway through the first quarter. That forced the Suns to go to the bench sooner than desired, and the rout was on.
QUOTABLE II: "We are still not a complete team. We have to get Chauncey (Billups) back. We have to get Grant (Hill) back."
-- Del Negro.
HOT: The Clippers hit 11-for-21 (52 percent) from 3-point range, almost equaling their free-throw percentage of 55 (they shot just 11-for-21).
NOT: Marcin Gortat twice late in the first half grabbed defensive rebounds and threw the ball away unforced. The turnovers helped the Clippers build a decisive 58-43 halftime lead.
FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Dragic has shot only 6-for-21 for 17 points the past two nights.
NOTABLE: The Suns had won 10 straight at home vs. the Clippers, meaning Griffin had never won in Arizona.
UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Tuesday vs. Nuggets, Thursday vs. Celtics and Friday @ Utah. For the Suns, Wednesday vs. Knicks, Friday @ Indiana and Saturday @ Minnesota.