Five Takeaways: Clippers Never Lose Lead In 124-114 Win Vs. Suns
PHOENIX – The Clippers (31-18) snapped a two-game losing streak, leading the entire way Wednesday night while moving to 3-0 against the Suns (15-34) this year.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 124-114 win.
1) Blake Back – It was evident from the jump that this would be the game Blake Griffin put it all together. Griffin, in his third game back from knee surgery, went 5-for-5 with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists in the first quarter alone. He attacked the rim, he finished alley-oops, he created for himself to get to the rim for a dunk and he went through his legs to find a driving J.J. Redick for a basket, showing off his full offensive arsenal as he continues to get back in rhythm.
By night’s end, Griffin compiled 29 points, eight rebounds and five assists, going 10-for-14 from the floor and 9-for-10 from the line. It was the type of performance that should leave the Clippers encouraged about where their star forward’s at physically.
2) Second-chance points keep Suns around early – The Suns shot 20.9 percent worse than the Clippers at halftime, yet still managed to score 59 points, trailing by three points heading to the break. They did it by getting to the line, but mostly by getting extra opportunities.
At halftime, the Suns had already racked up 20 second-chance points to the Clippers’ nine, taking 11 more first-half shots than the Clippers. The Clippers cleaned that up in the second half, allowing just two second-chance points after the half, but the Suns still took 12 more shots than the Clippers on the night.
3) Foul troubles – By halftime, Austin Rivers, Raymond Felton and Luc Mbah a Moute each had three fouls apiece, and the Suns had hit twice as many free throws as the Clippers. The Suns finished 29-for-35 from the line in what became a chippy game, and six different Clippers finished with at least four fouls, marking the first time in 2017 the Clippers allowed a team to take at least 30 free-throw attempts.
But both teams dealt with foul issues and both teams received both technicals and flagrants. The Clippers caught back up in the foul category and actually finished with more made free throws, going 31-for-38 from the line as they sealed the win.
4) Jordan tossed – Despite Phoenix hanging around, the Clippers still held a double-digit lead halfway through the third quarter when they lost one of their most valuable pieces. Suns forward Marquese Chriss went up for a dunk and fell hard to the floor on a foul from DeAndre Jordan, who ended up with a flagrant-2 foul and ejected after posting six points, 12 rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes.
Soon after, Clippers assistant coach Armond Hill was issued a technical foul on the bench during a confrontational third quarter. Through it all, the Clippers maintained a lead, albeit a small one. The Suns kept creeping closer, trailing by just four entering the fourth on the back of Eric Bledsoe.
5) Felton, Crawford, Bass pack late punch – Early in the fourth, Brandon Bass scored all three of his baskets on the night on consecutive possessions to keep the Clippers ahead. But with Bledsoe going off for 41 points – the third game of the season the former Clipper has scored 40 points – the Clippers needed an answer at the other end from their backcourt. They got it from Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford. The Clippers used a three-guard starting lineup, inserting Felton in with the starting group, and he scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. Crawford added a bench-high 14 points, passing Ricky Pierce to move to No. 3 all-time in bench scoring in the process.
What’s Next? – The Clippers return home for the second game of a back-to-back Thursday against Golden State.