Suns Lose Lead, Game to Clippers

Barry Gossage/NBAE
108
112

For a second, it looked as though Phoenix would fend off a collosal rally from the Clippers. Eric Bledsoe had just given the Suns a one-point lead with a side-step floater, and they had L.A. on the ropes defensively on the ensuing possession.

Desperate to get a shot off before the shot clock expired, Chris Paul heaved a 32-foot three-pointer.

The groan from the US Airways Center crowd when it went in matched the three that followed when a trio of close calls in the final minute -- all of which required official reviews -- confirmed L.A. would keep the ball each time.

In the end it was too much catch-up and too few opportunities for the Suns, who dropped a 112-108 game to the Clippers despite leading by 17 in the third quarter.

"It's like a broken record," Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said. "We tell them all the time, you can't have a two or three-minute lull against these top teams."

Phoenix lost despite eight players scoring in double figures and a 28-of-33 showing at the free throw line. L.A. countered with three 20-point performances from Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Darren Collison. It was Griffin's offensive rebound and putback with 49.5 seconds left that put the Clippers up by four.

The loss was doubly painful on a night that saw fellow playoff-hopefuls Memphis and Golden State lose. Phoenix is now in a three-way tie with the Grizzlies and Mavericks, with the current tiebreaker stipulations putting the Suns in ninth.

TURNING POINT

It went largely unnoticed, but it ended up providing the final margin of victory. After a P.J. Tucker putback plus the foul put Phoenix up 17, Jared Dudley hit a pair of free throws and Darren Collison hit a jump shot to cut the lead to 13 entering the fourth quarter.

The sequence not only stalled the Suns' momentum, but kickstarted a 20-6 Clipper run.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT

PLAYER OF THE GAME

P.J. Tucker took it to the Clippers' frontline, particularly in the third quarter. The Suns' rugged forward finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, including six boards on the offensive glass.

PHOTO OF THE NIGHT

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

"They're definitely keepign us in it, but we're not helping ourselves out by going up at all, either. At some point, we're going to have to step up if we're going to take [a playoff spot.]" -- P.J. Tucker on the Suns' last two defeats occurring on nights playoff-hopefuls Golden State and Memphis also lost

STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT

6: The number of offensive rebounds P.J. Tucker snagged compared to the one DeAndre Jordan (second in the league in that stat) finished with.

POSTGAME REPORT