The Suns have already been without Devin Booker, Tyson Chandler and T.J. Warren, but they added Alex Len and Elfrid Payton to the injury report as the team tipped-off against the Clippers on Wednesday.
Tyler Ulis had scored double-digit points in the previous three games off the bench and Head Coach Jay Triano looked for that trend to continue as he placed Ulis into the starting lineup.
Ulis took advantage of his new role scoring nine points in the first quarter alone as the Suns took a five-point lead into the second.
In a game without many of their lead scorers, the Suns looked to rely on their defense and hustle to fight their way through the game. Rookies Shaquille Harrison and Davon Reed gave them exactly that.
The two of them combined for 13 points and three steals in the first half as their defense helped allow the team to run the fast break and beat the Clippers down the court.
“I think over the last couple of games we’ve gone to the bench and the defense has been pretty good with guys coming in,” Triano said. “I thought when we were getting stops we were able to get out and run.”
Steal Leads to Shaq Harrison Fast Break Throwdown
Ulis hit a three in the final seconds, but Austin Rivers would respond with a three of his own as the Clippers took a 58-56 lead into the halftime.
Although the Suns weren’t able to regain the lead during the third quarter, they kept it close and were only down by three entering the final frame.
The fourth quarter didn’t start the way the Suns would have hoped as the Clippers went on an 18-0 run as the score turned lopsided quickly.
“We were able to keep it close, but just ran out of juice when they went on that run,” Triano said.
The Suns looked to be out of firepower and out of gas as the team fell to the Clippers 111-99.
“Ninety-nine points for what we have right now is about what we figure we can manufacture,” Triano said. “We don’t have a lot of natural scorers.”
Even in the loss, it was a huge game for the two guards as Ulis and Harrison both finished with season-highs.
“I thought we got great play out of both our point guards,” Triano said. “I thought Shaq and Tyler were great. They had 40 points and two turnovers. I thought they were good at pushing the ball for us and they both played very well.”
Highlights: Shaquille Harrison Scores 17 vs Clippers
Harrison had the tough matchup of guarding Lou Williams, but the rookie held his own against the pure shooter holding him to just 13 points with six turnovers.
“That’s a guy I looked up to when I was outside this league,” Harrison said. “It’s great so I can match myself up with him. Props to him, he’s a great player and hard to guard.”
Harrison got it done on both sides of the court as he finished with a career-high 17 points off the bench to go along with his four rebounds and four steals.
“Shaq is a guy who can come in and bring that type of energy as well,” Ulis said. “He did his great job of guarding Lou, getting out in transition, getting buckets. It’s just about playing hard. He has a great motor and he helped us out a lot.”
Only 17 games into his NBA career, Harrison doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
“Definitely have got to take advantage of it because there’s a lot of people out there that want to be in my position, so I’m just trying to make the most of it as I can,” Harrison said.
The Suns will hit the road as the team travels to Houston to face the Rockets on Friday. Catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.