Postgame Central: Suns @ Clippers, Dec 26, 2010
Box Score & Stats
72The Clippers shot 72.2% in the first quarter on the way to building a 33-18 lead.
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Lucky Number Stats
Quote of the Game
"We lost the game in the first half"
Fan Quote of the Game
"Despite today's @PhoenixSuns loss,feel great about this team. Gortat is the real deal & Pietrus was excellent. Haven't even seen Vince yet!"
Slow Start Dooms Suns in LA
The victory was the Clippers' first against their Pacific Division rivals since Jan. 15, 2008, and only their fourth in 19 meetings since losing Game 7 of the 2006 Western Conference semifinals at Phoenix.
Eric Gordon scored 24 points and Baron Davis added 15 points and nine assists to complement Griffin's 24th double-double of the season.
Newly acquired Mickael Pietrus scored a season-high off the bench for Phoenix. Two-time MVP Steve Nash finished with 21 points and 15 assists on "Boxing Day," which is a national holiday in his native Canada. Grant Hill had 19 points and seven rebounds.
After trailing by as many as 18 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first half, the Suns narrowed the gap to 64-58 on a 3-pointer by Nash with 8:48 left in the third quarter. They scored the final seven points of the period to close within one, and Pietrus tied it at 85 on a 3-pointer with 7:54 remaining.
The Clippers responded with a pair of outside jumpers by Griffin and Gordon, followed by a 3-pointer by Baron Davis, and Griffin capped an 11-2 run with a three-point play as the Clippers pulled ahead 96-87 with 5:55 to play. Pietrus, who committed a flagrant foul against rookie Al-Farouq Aminu during the run, stuck out his knee in an attempt to stop Griffin on his drive to the hoop.
The Suns slashed a 10-point deficit to 104-103 on a pair of driving layups by Nash, a dunk by Pietrus and a 3-pointer by Pietrus with 22.5 seconds to go. But Gordon stole the ball from Pietrus, leading to a clinching fastbreak dunk by Aminu with 4.6 seconds left.
Griffin, who leads the league with 71 dunks, made one of his best - in terms of degree of difficulty - midway through the first quarter. He drove the left baseline, elevated above the rim and reached as far back as he could with his right hand to catch Davis' lob pass before throwing it down over Suns newly acquired backup center Marcin Gortat.
Phoenix center Robin Lopez went to the bench after picking up two fouls during the first 3 minutes, and didn't report back in until the start of the third quarter. Gortat got his third foul with 4:53 left in the half on a driving layup by Griffin that could have been a charge.
The Clippers, playing before their second sellout of the season at Staples Center, jumped out to a 31-16 lead. Nash missed all five shots in the first quarter and started out 0 for 7 before ending the drought with a four-point play 1:21 before halftime.
Nash was fouled by Griffin on a 26-footer and converted the free throw, trimming the Clippers' lead to 59-46. Griffin committed another foul behind the 3-point line with 4:04 left in third, this one against Jared Dudley, who made two free throws to trim the lead to 78-71.
Notes: Griffin fouled out for the second time this season. ... Vince Carter missed his fourth straight game since the Suns acquired him last Saturday with Gortat and Pietrus in a six-player trade with Orlando. The eight-time All-Star, who turns 34 on Jan. 26, hasn't played since Dec. 14 because of a sore left knee. "He's just not feeling quite there, but he's close," coach Alvin Gentry said. "With the treatment they've given him, he feels a lot better." ... The victory helped the Clippers avert what would have been the franchise's 29th double-digit losing streak against one team, including a 12-game drought against the Suns from Oct. 31, 1997 through Nov. 25, 2000. ... The Suns began a four-game stretch against teams that entered Sunday with a combined 34-81 record, after facing four teams that were a combined 92-28. ... The Suns are a season-worst three games under .500. Their next game is against Philadelphia on Wednesday, when they will try to avoid their first four-game losing streak since Jan. 13-18 of last season.