Newsroom Notes: Suns Stifle Griffin, Sink Clippers
Posted: March 2, 2012
When two of the four All-Star point guards in the Western Conference face off against each other, one would figure that we would all be treated to an offensive display. And usually we would; but just not on Friday.
In an unlikely defensive battle, that saw neither team shoot better than 36 percent, the Suns rallied from 11 down to capture an 81-78 home victory over the Clippers.
After totaling just 32 points in the first half on 30-percent shooting, the Suns righted their ship in the third period by outscoring the Clippers by 14 in the quarter. From that point on, the Suns held off the Clippers’ late surge to nab their fourth win in five contests.
“We have to learn to grind out wins when scoring 81 points,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “The only thing keeping us in the game was our defense. We have to be able to win games without shooting well.”
In the past, when the Clippers came to town, it used to be a gimme on the Suns schedule. Coming into Friday’s matchup, the Suns had won 11 of the last 12 games in the series and eight-straight home games over their divisional foe.
But that’s before the Clippers acquired Chris Paul. Paul, who Nash considers to be one of the Top 2 point guards in the league (along with New Jersey’s Deron Williams). Since arriving in L.A., Paul has taken the Clippers from a lottery team to the top of Pacific Division.
However, neither Nash nor Paul had remarkable nights Friday, with Jared Dudley leading the Suns attack with 22 points. Marcin Gortat (18 points and 14 rebounds) and Grant Hill 12 points were the other Suns that reached double figures.
But it was the Suns’ defense that allowed them to prevail, outrebounding the Clippers by five, committing only 13 fouls, holding the Clips to 36-percent shooting for the game and only 72 points on the night. Clippers star forward Blake Griffin was held to 17 points on 6-of-19 shooting.
“We bodied him up and played him well,” Gentry said of his squad’s defensive work on Griffin. “6-for-19 is as good as you could hope for with him.”
Phoenix looks for its third-straight win when they host Sacramento on Sunday.
Entering this season, either Nash or Paul has led the league in assists in every NBA campaign since 2004 – Nash’s first year back with the Suns following a stint and Dallas, and an entire season before Paul’s rookie year with the Hornets.
Tomorrow is the 11th Annual Jack in the Box Celebrity Shootout, presented by Robert and Carole Machiz, at US Airways Center at 2 p.m. Some of the participants include four-time heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, former football great Terrell Owens, actor Nick Swardson and comedian Pauly Shore.
Suns swingman Jared Dudley will coach one of the teams, while Suns forward Josh Childress and Suns point guard Sebastian Telfair will coach the other.
“I’m predicting TO (Terrell Owens) will win the MVP and my team will win in a laugher,” Dudley said. The game benefits Phoenix Suns Charities and Suns Nite Hoops.
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