Phoenix Suns 107, Los Angeles Clippers 88 – A Hollywood Heist

Posted by on December 30th, 11:59 pm

The game started with a 9-0 Suns’ run and ended with a Slava Kravtsov dunk. That’s pretty much all you need to know about Phoenix’s impressive 107-98 win over the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. Had this game been a Hollywood movie, the story would have focused on Eric Bledsoe’s homecoming and his matchup with former mentor Chris Paul. But this wasn’t a movie, it was a good old fashioned blowout, with more garbage time than the next Transformers sequel. And Bledsoe and CP3 were little more than bit players in this very entertaining story.

The Suns hit the Clippers with everything they had from the very outset of the game. Before most Clippers fans had left their house for the arena, the Suns had run up a big lead and forced Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers to call a timeout and wake his team up. The Clippers eventually got into the game, but Phoenix still put up 30 in the first quarter and led 61-40 by halftime. The Suns played incredible defense, holding the Clippers to 30% shooting from the floor in the first half and 36% for the game. Phoenix on the other hand hit 52% of their shots in the first half, and really outclassed the Clippers in every possible way. No matter what the Clippers did, the Suns had an answer. Goran Dragic had 20 points, four assists, and five steals in the first half alone. He was a defensive menace who spearheaded a 17-steal performance by Phoenix. In transition, the Dragon was an unstoppable blur. He finished the night with 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting, carrying the load in Bledsoe’s stead.

Though the Clippers are thought of as the class of Pacific Division, at no point did the Suns’ dominance seem out of place or surprising. They simply outhustled and outperformed the Clippers in all but the garbage time fourth quarter. Perhaps the best example of the effort and dominance the Suns played with was Channing Frye’s exceptional defense on Blake Griffin. Frye refused to back down to high-flying big man, stifling him in the post on multiple occasions and holding him to just 5-of-15 shooting. Frye is the de facto elder statesman of this Suns’ team. Tonight he proved himself a worthy leader with his play on both ends of the floor. For more analysis, let’s look at our three preview questions.

Will the student become the master?

The pressure was squarely on Eric Bledsoe’s shoulders heading into this matchup. All the pregame storylines focused on his relationship with Chris Paul and the rest of his former teammates. The Clippers welcomed him home with tough team defense every time he touched the ball. Los Angeles seemed focused on forcing someone else to carry the load. Dragic, Channing Frye, and Gerald Green were more than happy to oblige them. Though Bledsoe finished with just eight points and four assists, his willingness to accept the pressure and defer was a major reason the Suns were so successful in this game. The student may not have become the master, but he certainly took a page from his playbook. As for Chris Paul, the home crowd spent the second and third quarters waiting for him to take over the game and bring LA back, but that never happened. Paul shot just 5-of-14 from the field for 11 points. He dished out seven assists, but the Suns also forced him into four turnovers. Bledsoe played tough defense on CP3 every time the two were on the floor together. Chris Paul is still the league’s best point guard, but he had more than a little trouble with Bledsoe’s strength and aggressiveness.

Will the Suns find their range from deep?

Yes they did. In the first quarter, the Suns were quiet from downtown. In the second, The Green Light came on and started raining from deep. Gerald hit 4-of-7 in the quarter and once again proved that he is one of the most confident and streaky shooters in the NBA. When Green is feeling it, every shot looks like a good shot. It because of games like this that Coach Jeff Hornacek allows Green to shoot at will. Some nights, he single-handedly puts other teams away.

But the Suns weren’t done at halftime. In the third, Channing Frye went back-to-back-to-back from downtown. His trio of triples broke the Clippers will and forced most of their starters to the bench for good. Channing ended the night 4-of-7 from deep while the Suns hit 12-of-31 overall.

Who would you rather have: Miles Plumlee or DeAndre Jordan?

After a career performance against the Sixers, Miles Plumlee came back to Earth a little bit in LA. Plumlee played limited minutes because of first half foul trouble and Coach Hornacek’s decision to go with the floor spacing Morris twins later in the game. When he was on the floor, Miles failed to take advantage of the Clippers’ questionable interior defense. His jump hook, which had been falling lately was flat and ineffective. Defensively, he protected the rim well, blocking three shots and helping his team hold the Clippers to just 36 points in the paint. But he did miss several rotations leading to easy Clippers buckets. On the glass, Miles was outclassed by DeAndre Jordan who pulled down 19 boards on the night (six offensive.) Plumlee managed to outscore Jordan 6-2, but it’s safe to say this way neither man’s finest hour. The Suns did most of their damage in transition and beyond the arc, leaving few opportunities for Plumlee to go to work in the post.

 

Ryan Weisert

Ryan Weisert is a staff writer for ValleyoftheSuns. You can also find him at his sports and pop culture blog Spectavius.com.

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Tags: Goran Dragic · Los Angeles Clippers · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Recap

33 responses so far ↓

  • 1 foreveris2long // Dec 31, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Ryan I was at the game and agree 100% with your summation. On a slightly different note the Suns cheerleaders are three times hotter than the Clipper Girls. It is not close.

    The various takes from Clipper fans were funny. Some had not heard of Dragic or did not know he was still on the Suns. Most fans were really impressed with the overall speed of the Suns including the 2nd unit. They could not understand why the Clippers traded Bledsoe. They also joked about how Dudley does not look like an athlete.They could not believe how much Gerald Green has improved. While they all agreed the Suns did not have any superstars, they acknowledged the Suns had a bunch of young good players.

    I have never had so much fun in an opposing arena. Dragic had Clipper fans asking who is this guy? Watching the fans hit the exit gates in the 3rd quarter was classic. It was almost as funny as watching the Clipper fan try and win a jeep with a shot from half court and his shot only traveled about 10 feet. The guy sat almost directly in front of me so I witnessed and I guess participated in the fans clowning him upon his return.

    All jokes aside I think the Clippers are starting to wonder if they can win a championship with Jordan at center. He provides very little on offense and is terrible at the free throw line. I believe they are looking at Bynum.

    What a night!!! I have never been more proud of those guys. They played defense like I have not seen them play and they were intelligently patient on offense. Great job Coach Horny.

  • 2 Scott // Dec 31, 2013 at 12:42 am

    That was a fun game to watch. Not a close game, but a fun game. :)

  • 3 Lance // Dec 31, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Giga game by Goran. This was his nights. Go Gogi Go.

  • 4 Voqar // Dec 31, 2013 at 2:37 am

    I fully expected this to be a tough game with Blake going nuts inside and CP3 feeling obligated to torch Bledsoe.

    Sure didn’t end up like that.

    That was a glorious massacre to watch.

  • 5 Suns Fan From Israel // Dec 31, 2013 at 4:13 am

    The hotness of the cheerleaders is a very important tool to majeure how the team sees itself.
    ugly cheerleaders means low self-esteem.
    its a good thing to hear the suns have the hottest girls!

  • 6 vtsunrise // Dec 31, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Great write up and great in person fan account, Ryan and Forever. This team defies all expectations. I was stunned to see the score after three quarters and the final outcome. This is the classic case of a well coached team being far greater than the individual parts. The explosiveness of the versatile backcourt and the bench depth will carry this team far. That plus amazing chemistry and a wonderful work ethic and can do attitude. 2014 will be very special for the Suns.

  • 7 john // Dec 31, 2013 at 7:20 am

    The Suns are starting to blow teams out seemingly at will. I’m starting to believe this could be a Pacific champ.

    Lotta basketball to be played still, but this Suns squad definitely has my full attention. Go Suns!

  • 8 The Real Al // Dec 31, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Theres an excellent article on espn about bledsoe and the rising sun. Its a great read. But what caught my attention was GM Mcdonough stating he’ll do “whatever” it takes to keep bledsoe a sun for years to come!! Heres what he said, qoute on qoute –

    “Sometimes that works out and both parties think it’s a good deal for them. Other times it doesn’t,” McDonough said. “Obviously we don’t have a whole lot of money committed for the future, we don’t have a lot of long-term contracts on our books. So we’ll have no problem stepping up and paying Eric whatever it takes to keep him.”

    Whatever it takes?

    “Correct,” McDonough said. “Any reasonable offer.

    “We have some advantages. We’re able to give him another year, five instead of four if we choose. We’re able to give him higher-percentage increases than other teams too. And then if another team does make an offer, we can always match that. So we feel like we’re holding the cards with Eric, and more importantly, I think Eric’s had a good experience here so far. He’s played well and the team has played fairly well. I think he kind of likes what we’re doing.”

    Good to hear!!!

  • 9 Chris // Dec 31, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Keeping Bledsoe, Plumlee, and Len (if he pans out, fingers crossed) is important to the future. The rest are replaceable. Maybe keep the Morris twins. I am glad to see Bledsoe and Plumlee shine on this team.

  • 10 Dave:f32 // Dec 31, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Goran Dragic is the REAL REASON this Suns team has had so much success up to this point of the season. Granted, the Suns schedule hasnt been too difficult with playing the same teams multiple times but with a caveat that they played really good teams strong, yet lost.

    I hope the FO is planning to double out that planned payment to keep Bledsoe, to ensure we keep Dragic cuz he is the one that is deserving of a raise, putting in work and playing with energy every game, getting teammates involved, and stepping up when Bledsoe wouldnt!

  • 11 Chris // Dec 31, 2013 at 9:23 am

    The only problem with keeping Dragic is he has hit his ceiling where as Bledsoe is playing equally as well and has not. We only need one point guard playing like that as Dragic is not a true shooting guard. We can get some good return from trading Dragic.

  • 12 Russell's Suns // Dec 31, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Bledsoe will sign a 5 year 52-55 million offer in the off season (this is probably 10 million more than any other team will offer him, plus both Thomas and Kemba walker are putting up similar stats and could be had for 8 million annual).

    I expect the Suns will give Dragic a similar offer next summer (2015) but for 4 years 44-45 million.

    Both will be Suns for years to come. Lou Deng is reportedly looking for 12 million annually from the Bulls, the bulls are only offering him 8 million, Deng will arrive to the Suns via trade and the Suns will sign him to a 4 year 40-45 million deal this summer.

    The question this off season comes down to who the Suns trade for for teh PF position, I believe we will get either Faried from Denver or Monroe from Detroit. Monroe is reportedly looking for the same deal Favors got, 12 million annual, while Faried wont be a restricted free agent until 2015.

    In any case the Suns look like they are building a monster.

  • 13 m.i.milliman // Dec 31, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I just keep imagining what this team would be with Kevin Love on the roster. As fun as this team is, and as much as I loved the Nash years, with Kevin Love I think this would be my favorite team of all time. As of now, it’s still a great team to watch. That win last night was fun even when it was over… by halftime.

  • 14 Russell's Suns // Dec 31, 2013 at 10:13 am

    I live Kevin Love as a player but to me if he is making $20 million a season he has to be a Superstar that can carry a team. He has never proven that he can be #1 guy on the team and lead them to at least a 2nd round.

    Because he would be making 20 million we would not be able to afford him, plus, bledsoe, dragic and Deng.

    But with what Faried and Monroe are expected to make the Suns can carry all these players on Multi year contracts (bledsoe, Dragic, Deng and either Faried/Monroe.) Just my 2 cents.

    My main problem with Love is he shoots 44%-45% from the field for a guy his size that takes so many shots he has to be shooting 55%, like traditional PF’s (Barkley, Malone). This is hwy Minny has not been a winner, Love is not efficient on offense.

  • 15 Bill Danforth // Dec 31, 2013 at 10:14 am

    “Keeping Bledsoe, Plumlee, and Len (if he pans out, fingers crossed) is important to the future. The rest are replaceable.”

    Wow! So Alex Len has done absolutely NOTHING to contribute to the Suns success but he is important to the Suns future while starter P.J. Tucker has been a poor-mans Iggy and he is replaceable?

    Sometimes comments like these give me a headache.

    But there is more. You break up one of the league’s best backcourts because Dragic just entered his prime and he is a “combo-guard” instead of a pure SG despite his shooting accuracy?

    Incredible!

    Have you even been watching the Suns THIS season? You do not fix what isn’t broke, you replace the weakest link, PF to become title contenders.

    Suns currently are one of the top eight teams in the league and in the bottom four of those eight. They are a player away from moving into the top four and you want to dump Dragic and Tucker and Keep Len.

    Mind-boggling.

  • 16 Russell's Suns // Dec 31, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Bill there is no way the Suns are breaking up Dragic and Bledsoe, these guys are crazy if they think that McD will allow that to happen. Championships are built by core players (Dragic is our Manu and Bledsoe will be our Parker), they are part of the core that we are building.

    They will both be signed to long term deals.

  • 17 Chris // Dec 31, 2013 at 10:59 am

    What is mind boggling is you think they are a player away from moving into the top four teams in the league. Yes if that player is James. Dragic is great, but the team would function better with a true shooting guard. Yes Len is apart of the future IF he pans out. reread what i said. If he lives up to expectations he is apart of the future core. Dragic will not be apart of the Suns future plans, mark my words.

  • 18 Melon Man // Dec 31, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I looked at the box score about half way through the game because I was at work and it blew my mind. This team is something else.

    Still want to know if Bill Danforth above is the legendary skater.

  • 19 john // Dec 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    @Chris

    It’s far more mind boggling that you can’t see that a team that is blowing out good teams is a great player away from contention. It doesn’t have to be James. Put any top 10 player in the league on this team and they are an instant contender. Paul George? Contender. LMA? Contender.

    James would make Utah a contender. Don’t be ridiculous. The Suns are a lot closer than you think.

  • 20 Lance // Dec 31, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Bledsoe is absolutely overrated too small PG. Very selfish and not enought versatile in game. The phisics is not enoght in basketball game. Game against LAC showed all his negative attributes. Man no way to sign him with + 10 MIO contract.
    Goran is bravehearted unselfish player. He can be engine of the team. Big part of this yeras success of PHX is on his shoulders. EB is just commercial quasi great PG.

  • 21 Russell's Suns // Dec 31, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Lance I agree with you partially, I think if Bledsoe was the only only PG on the court, with out Dragic he would be exposed as too wild of a player, McD realized that and that’s why Dragic and Bledsoe make the perfect combo. Unless a team gives up a Paul George or Demarcus Cousins type of player for either of them, there is no way McD is moving Dragic or Bledsoe.

    Get used to Dragic and Bledsoe playing together for the next 5 years.

  • 22 Animan // Dec 31, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Bledsoe and Dragic need no tweaking. They are a fantastic combination. Tucker is one of my personal favorite players and the fact that he has developed a semi-reliable three point shot justifies his presence on the court besides his terrific defense and hustle. Plumlee has nothing but upside in the future. In my opinion, the PF position is the only area where we are somewhat “weak” and even still, Frye is playing out of his mind, valiantly after missing a YEAR of any basketball activity. Look, guys, we’re playing very well thus far and not to jinx anything but why fix something that isn’t broken in the slightest? If things begin to turn downhill, then changes can be considered, but for now, we are just downright awesome to watch. So proud to be a Suns fan of nearly 10 years now

  • 23 m.i.milliman // Dec 31, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I think PJ is great (see http://thehardwoodboreal.blogspot.com/2013/12/suns-spot.html) but he’s more ike a broke man’s Iggy. Dragic and Bledsoe are so ferocious that I wouldn’t even think of breaking them up. I just think Love would be great for this team. He’s a high volume scorer and rebounder and the Suns could do better on the boards. Defencivly he’s a siv, but what a fun siv to watch. That team could run all over and over and over and still run somemore. Love’s outlet passes would be amazing on this team.

  • 24 m.i.milliman // Dec 31, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    @Animan you’re right btw, Dragic and Bledsoe need no tweeking.

  • 25 AL // Dec 31, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I feel like Bledsoe should not receive a max contract. He is a little streaky both on offense and defense. He can play good on ball defense. However, he becomes a non factor when opposing teams start putting constant screens for the opp. pg. Bledsoe constantly gets stuck on the screen. He will also score in the 20′s one night and follow it with a low 10′s. His jump shot is still a work in progress. I compare Bledsoe to Monta Ellis with better defense, but worse jump shot. Therefore, he should get a similar contract to what Ellis got with GS (55 mill/5yrs).

    Then there is Love…some fans don’t like him, but he is an above average player. Remember, no player can automatically guarantee a championship, but he can drastically improve offense down low and rebounding. Just read the article from BToS:

    http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2013/12/29/5251678/going-gorilla-the-weekly-phoenix-suns-rant-kevin-love-point-differential-defense

    Love and the Suns are made for one another…

  • 26 Chris // Dec 31, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Must have been in a bad mood this morning or just wanted to get in an argument. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. I think we are two players away from being a contender, not one. That is unless Archie Goodwin or Alex Len turns into a powerhouse. I don’t see that happening, but am hopeful. My whole thing about Dragic is I don’t see us winning a championship with Bledsoe and Dragic. They are good together, but I think in the end we will have to part with one. That one will be Dragic. I hope I am wrong and you guys are right that they keep both and we win a championship, but I don’t see that happening. We need two All-stars on our team to compete, bottom line. Ideally One through the draft and one through free agency. It would be ideal to get Love but I am not holding my breath. I want a championship just as much as you do. I just see a different way to go about it. In the end I don’t care if I am right or wrong, I just want a contender again.

  • 27 m.i.milliman // Dec 31, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    @Al Arg, I was going to write something on how the Suns would be cream if they got Love. But that dude said it pretty well. It would be so much fun to watch, titles be damed, if they came up short year after year I’d still be on board. I just wanna watch that team.

    @Chris The Mavs won a Title with only Dirk as there star and the Pistons did it with a bunch of rejects so it can be done. But regaardless, how could you wanna see the Double Dragons broke up. At this point it would kinda be like the Doobie Brothers braking up. (Not the Beatles, that would jusst be rediculous)

  • 28 m.i.milliman // Dec 31, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    @mimilliman Wow, that was an out of date reference.

  • 29 Ryan L. // Dec 31, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    @Chris

    Why do we have to part with Dragic? The Jordanesque SG’s we saw after Jordan in Kobe, McGrady, Carter, Allen, and Wade are almost extinct. Not many teams are built on 2 guards. Most are either role players, like Wesley Matthews, three point specialists like Belinelli/Green and Reddick, or defensive specialists like Tony Allen or Thabo Selfolosha. Only two teams built on their 2 guards are Lakers with Kobe, who probably retires in a year or two, and the Rockets with Harden. Although, Harden is a shooting guard is name only, he is used as a PG at least 85% of the time he is on the court.

    So, employing an undersized backcourt does not hurt us since Dragic is rarely up against those super athletic, 6’5+ 220 ponders.

    We have a new age backcourt, built similarly on the model of Parker and Ginobli. With the success of our backcourt, I wouldn’t be surprised to see other teams employ a similar model.

    You see it all the time with Paul and The Clippers or when Nash was a Sun. When these play making PGs go to the bench, the offense stalls. It would be like taking Tom Brady or Manning out and letting the back up QB run the offense for a few offensive series….A drop off is inevitable. The Suns, However, never face this problem. We always have one of these guys manning the point, with little drop off between the two.

    Why do we need two all stars to compete? Unlike other teams, ours is young. We are only getting better. Goran and Bledsoe are still figuring each other out, Bledsoe is still getting used to playing a lot of minutes, Plumlee is growing offensively by the game. Len and Goodwin are still at their floors, both have unlimited potential.

    Remember. The Spurs will have to rebuild soon. There will be dropoff when Duncan and Ginobli leave. The Rockets will be cap challenged for years to come. No way the Blazers keep that starting five together long term. Plus, Portland is coming back down to earth. They will still be good, but no way they keep up this pace. And the Clippers…Well, they are kind of stuck. Jordan, unless he gets a wide open dunk, tip-in, or alley-oop is useless offensively. Soft at the two and three, and Blake Griffin literally has not developed into anything above what we saw from him since his first season….In fact, his best season as a pro was season one…Career highs in points, rebounds, assists. Don’t get me wrong, he is an all star PF, but I don’t know if he ever will be elite. If he ever will carry a team to a title like Duncan, Dirk, or Garnett.

    So, needless to say, the Suns are in great shape with our current team, let alone the fact we have a surplus of first round draft picks over the next two years and lots of cap space.

  • 30 Chris // Dec 31, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Happy New Year Gentlemen!

  • 31 BCrayZ // Jan 1, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Have not wished to poke holes in our team’s game.

    Left that to Horny who has done a terrific job in addressing & fixing each problem area.

    With Nash & Hill done here, one of the biggest problem areas has been a lack of veteran leadership. That problem has now been solved for some time. This is why we are now bouncing back after a loss. With winning 10 of the last 12, the most important part of that is not any particular winning streak, but rather not allowing a losing streak to get started. Just like four years ago, when the Suns actually had a shot at winning it all, if they could have only gotten past the Lakers, the Suns are bouncing back after our Sours loss & after our Warriors loss. Four years ago, Alvin benched STAT for the entire 4Q in a game we were losing to the Mavs. Suns without Amare came back in that 4th quarter to win the game. Over the next four months, until they played the Lakers in L.A., the Suns bounced back after each & every loss. So, it has been no accident that new veteran leaders of this team that have been stepping forward to help Horny to lead the younger guys have been the only two remaining members of “that killer bench unit” from four years back that was chiefly responsible for following the lead of Nash & Hill. G

  • 32 BCrayZ // Jan 1, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Gogi (Dragic) & Chinga (Frye) have been the ones this time. Gogi will talk of the need for constant defensive pressure & the running game. Frye said, after our home loss to the Jazz, that he is 30 years old & just played 40 minutes of the back end game of a back to back vs. the Jazz & said that he “felt fine.” Frye told the younger guys not to feel sorry for themselves & that they had no excuses. From that point on, after losing their first four back end games, the Suns have dominated the next three back end games, including that very next back end game vs. the Rockets, on the road. What Frye is saying now is just as important. What was his message to his team mates right after our last game? This time, he is telling them what they did right & how to keep winning. Pass the ball. Such a simple concept. Frye has shared my concern (& I’m sure Horny’s as well) over more than half of the Suns field goals having recently come from unassisted (1 on 1) shots. Last game was much better & as good a team as the Suns have been during this time, we now see how correcting this problem took the Suns to the next level of greatness in our last game by sharing the ball. Even Frye, normally a shooter, had a few assists in the game. Chinga is usually a bit hazy on the numbers, but he knew that the team had 26 assists (out of 41 buckets) in our last game. He told our younger guys that this is the way we need to continue to play. Even the twins were passing to other unrelated guys. When Miles goes for double digit rebounding (or even PJ), you folks talk about it. Rebounding has been our weak spot. Also it happens to be the weak spot for the 2-time champion Heat. Horny has them working on that. Much better rebounding performances have resulted. Just to give those deserving a well earned pat on the back, let me now praise Mark for his double-digit board game in our last game & Chinga (Frye) for his double digit rebounding game, the previous game. Suns could pick up some additional winning culture leadership & rebounding power all in one easy move by getting the Pelicans to send our Louis back & reunite him with our other members of “that killer bench unit” Gogi (Dragic) & Chinga (Frye.) Why not take this all the way by signing, also at a veteran minimum’s salary, rehabbed free agent Leandro Barbosa (“The Brazilian Blur.” Make it so Ryan.

    MUST reunite “that killer bench unit.” Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • 33 Scott // Jan 2, 2014 at 12:24 am

    I still don’t see Bledsoe staying. If he continues to have a great season his reputation will grow and he’ll be more valuable in a sign and trade when summer rolls around.

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