Los Angeles Clippers 112, Phoenix Suns 105 – Too little too late


You know the sound a balloon makes when the air is let out? That sound perfectly sums up the Suns 112-105 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers tonight at the StaplesCenter.

Phoenix was completely blown away in the first half. Goran Dragic picked up two fouls early in the first and another early in the third. He played only 12 minutes of the first 24 minutes, and as a result, Phoenix looked out-of-rhythm and hapless on both ends of the floor. Offensively, they settled for far too many jumpers and shot just 36% from the floor. Defensively they allowed Blake Griffin to net 29 points on 11-of-12 shooting in the first half. As a team, the Clippers hit over 60% of their shots and built a 17-point halftime lead.

In the third quarter that lead swelled to 25 points as Phoenix continued to struggle at both ends. But then the Clippers got complacent and became more concerned with getting Blake Griffin to 40 points than running their offense or communicating on defense. Slowly but surely, the Suns whittled the Clippers’ lead down. And then came the scuffle.

With a little over five minutes left in the game and the Suns trailing by 14 points, PJ Tucker and Blake Griffin hit the deck while battling for a rebound. With Griffin on top and PJ in full guard, the two began shoving one another. PJ pushed his elbow into Blake’s face as both teams raced to their teammates’ aid and broke up the skirmish. After a lengthy official review, Tucker was assessed a technical foul and ejected. The smile on PJ’s face as he left the floor was reflective of how the Suns must have felt at that point. They proceeded to go on a 15-5 run. Griffin, who was visibly rattled by the altercation, picked up offensive fouls on back-to-back possessions and fouled out with three minutes left. The Suns got as close as four points, but ultimately succumbed to their self-inflicted wounds.

This game was the last gasp of an exhausting stretch of the schedule. The win over OKC was rewarding, but the Suns had a chance to win each of other three games they played in the last week. In each contest, a long collective lapse put Phoenix in a hole they could not climb out of. That’s not a winning strategy to say the least. The Suns have proven themselves to be one of the most resilient teams in the NBA, but tonight they looked to be missing something.

For more on this game, let’s answer our three preview questions.

What about the FOE Bros.?

The Morris twins are the main reason this game did not stay a blowout. Marcus and Markieff combined for 23 points in the second half. Though the twins’ dismal first half performances contributed to the large deficit Phoenix had to overcome, the Suns would not have had a chance to win late if not for the Morris brothers. Both of them had their jumpers going in the second half, and neither was afraid to take the ball inside against DeAndre Jordan and Griffin. The Suns will need more performances like this one over the final 19 games of the year.

Does Blake Griffin remain quiet?

Nope. Not even a little bit. In fact, he was very loud. Blake finished the game with 37 points. He missed only two FG attempts and hit 9 of his 10 free throws. He operated almost exclusively on the left side of the court. It didn’t matter who the Suns threw at him. Blake was unstoppable. His jumper was going as well as it ever has. As his points piled up, the Suns tried to push him further and further away from the basket, but it didn’t matter. He hit no less than eight jump shots from that side of the floor. This wasn’t a state line filled with big-time dunks. No, this game was an illustration of the kind of player Griffin has transformed into. One who is dangerous from all areas of the court. The “brawl” with Tucker is definitely a black mark on an otherwise incredible performance, but Griffin was not entirely without blame for that encounter.

Does the Dragon get his running mate back?

Unfortunately Eric Bledsoe’s return is still a few days away. Early on it looked like Dragic’s stand-in running mate, Gerald Green, was gong to take the reigns with Dragic on the bench in foul trouble. Gerald hit five of his first nine shots en route to 13 first half points. But he managed to hit just one basket the rest of the game. Goran got himself on track in the second half finishing with 23 points and five assists.

This was truly a discombobulated affair for the Suns. It was won of the ugliest games they have played in a while. But despite the lack of elegance, the Suns once again showed their toughness and resiliency as they clawed back in this one. Looking forward, Phoenix needs to be proud of their comebacks in these three losses and forget the rest of the clutter. That’s the only way they’ll be able to break back into the playoff picture that they now find themselves outside of for the first time in several months.

Tags: Blake Griffin Los Angeles Clippers Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Recap

  • Fan in Chi Town

    We need Bledsoe back in a hurry. Everybody in the west except for us and Portland, it seems, are peaking at the right time. Tucker will probably be suspended, and we are already having a hard enough time defending guys. Griffin shredded us. Durant and Westbrook shredded us. The splash brothers (I hate that name) shredded us.

    This team is fading fast. We are 8-9 in February and March at the moment. We would probably be on an 8 game western conference losing streak if Green and Dragic both didn’t have the games of their lives.

    Having said all that, I will also say that I think Clippers-Suns will probably be a genuine rivalry for the forthcoming years. It seems that these two teams really do not like each other. I really don’t think Dragic and CP3 care for each other at all, and I just think the Suns get fed up with “Lob City’s” showboat antics. Plus, if we retain Bledsoe that adds another wrinkle in there.

  • bill_thomas

    Great effort all-around tonight despite the loss, but we need a few additions/changes:

    Sign Telfair thru year-end. Barbosa is out thru year-end, Dragic is constantly playing hurt and Ish cannot defend anyone over 6 feet. We don’t know how Bledsoe will come on and another injury to someone is always a possibility.

    Sign Solomon Jones thru year-end to set screens, defend the basket and lay wood on people.

    Sign Dedmon to a 10-day if Orlando waives him. Should have been done when Philly waived him.

    Get Dragic some rest whether he wants it or not.

  • EBJM

    Yeah, Suns need another stiff like Solomon Jones.

    Once again Tucker is the Suns toughest PF with 10 boards and an elbow to Griffin’s head.

    Has ANYBODY seen Frye rough up an opposing player throwing down 14 of 16 shots on him?

    Chris Paul and Darren Collison are both 6′-0″ tall, same as Ish Smith. Difference is Ish is a 3rd string PG going up against starters.

    Over-achieving Suns are simply being exposed by true contenders. No shame in that. Signing a bunch of 10 day contract players rejected from other teams with 20 games left isn’t going to change that one iota.

    Clips sign Glen Davis and you want to counter with Solomon Jones?

  • bill_thomas

    @EBJM, Smith looks like a twig out there. Or a butterfly on meth. Need someone who can contend with these Collison/CP3 types on even footing.

    Re: Solomon Jone: I’m not proposing hiring him based on his SAT score.

  • bill_thomas

    Davis is not a poor man’s LeBron, that’s for sure.

  • bill_thomas

    Ish Smith is 5’10″ on a good day. He eats so many twinkies his activity level makes him seem taller.

    OJ goofed up and didn’t put forward the twinkies defense, but got off anyway.

  • sunsn7

    Yes Suns need Bledsoe on both ends of the floor.. PJ Tucker clearly sparked em down the stretch…Channing Frye continues to kill Suns fans with his apathetic/pathetic low post non-presence..

    My 47-35 prediction is now a distinct possibility. Kiss 50 wins goodbye YOUNG SUNS.

  • Luka

    The Suns defensively have been a joke. Markieff and Frye don’t even bother to box out. They also double at the wrong times and fail to get back at the rim to secure the board. I just don’t know what they’re doing out there.

    On offense we don’t execute in the half court really. Nobody can take the ball and break the defense down. It’s just Dragic more or less on his own. He’s lucky if he can get Kieff or Frye to set their screens correctly. Green is a great shooter, but quite possibly has the worst basketball IQ in terms of ball handling and making plays. It’s gotta be frustrating for Goran.

    So I guess it boils down to Bledsoe’s return. Otherwise we’ve got to seriously address this PF problem in the offseason.

    On a side note I usually don’t try to harp on the refs but dear god these guys were bumbling idiots. How did Blake not get a technical for retaliating? Dragic was also raked across the arm by Paul and they totally missed it. Just a damn frustrating night.

    Good news the rest of March is fairly winnable. The Suns can easily reel off a 5-6 game winning streak and hopefully get Bledsoe along in the meanwhile. Don’t give up just yet.

  • bill_thomas

    @Luka, you didn’t know that CP3 is 3/5 substance, 2/5 manipulating refs???

    Who in the league don’t know that???? Ask any SA Spurs or Memphis Grizzlies.

    Try to take a look at the play on Youtube where Paul circles in front of Cousins, swipes at him then flops on his back. Foul called on Cousins in the breakaway Kings fast break. Stops the break and Paul’s flop gets him free-throws.

    All in a day’s work for this league office.

  • bill_thomas

    Frye didn’t play defense???

    With all due respect to the sports media, this is not news.

  • vtsunrise

    @bill thomas,
    Please make up your mind. Is it twinkles or meth? Thanks for the laugh.

  • vtsunrise

    re: the game, I’m glad I didn’t lose sleep over it. Will see the recording… the lowlights and highlights… as time allows.

    The brawl to me was an initial foul on Blake. Preferential treatment. Since when do you get a foul for being tackled?

    As for the punch or the shove, it’ll mean a suspension, so props to PJ for standing tall or scrapping, but there’s a price to pay. And I’ll have to look more closely, but could Blake have committed an on-top flop? Did his head jerk back on its own or is he just a jerk?

    In the bigger picture, this is a scrappy, resilient team that wasn’t supposed to win either of the last two games, even though a 48-minute effort might have done it.

    Don’t let down vs the Cavs. Um, don’t Cav in now!

  • Luka

    The Suns did at least make a game of it late. Trailing by 25, on a back-back, a lot of teams would’ve thrown in the towel. Plumlee also looked a little more like the Plumdog from earlier in the season.

    Blake Griffin put on a hell of a performance. He looked like Tim Duncan out there. He’s clearly improved his offensive game, and you have to figure Doc Rivers has something to do with that.

  • bill_thomas

    @vtsunrise I don’t think its Twinkies or meth with ish, I think he just wakes up feeling energy but he’s 155lbs sopping wet.

    I think Frye needs something in his coffee, what, I don’t know.

  • bill_thomas

    @Luka, yeah, Blake has really gone to another level, we need to counter that somehow. I know, we could take the entire squad out back and have a firing squad.

    Or we could just go lo-violence and hire Sam “THE JEW” Hinkie.

  • bill_thomas

    I’ve looked at that Blake vid a million times. I don’t see a Tucker punch or much more than a swipe. Looks more like Tucker’s legs got cut from under him at a really bad angle. He may be out with joint strain for several days at least. Should go to the League Office on this one. We should replace him with MWP. (I am serious on that one; we have been pushed around for way too long).

    Is there any officiating worse than NBA? We should replace them all with a UK soccer mob, it can’t get any worse.

  • Foreveris2long

    I question whether Coach Horny has the faith in Randolph that McD has in him. On a night where Blake was going off, Randolph was no where to be seen.

    Anyway one out of four without Bledsoe against those opponents was all I could reasonably hope for so I am good with that. The Suns played their hearts out every game which is admirable. I would love for the Suns to make the playoffs but if they do not, I will be HAPPY just to see Frye gone or cemented to a bench role. He doesn’t even have a pulse on defense. There is zero fight in that dog. Everyone seems to have some fight in them on defense except Frye. Morris twins are not good rebounders but they play with an edge. Plumlee drives me crazy at times but I love his fight.. Len, Goodwin, Dragic, Green, Ish, PJ, everyone but Frye. I applaud his health recovery but if I never see him play for the Suns again it will be fine with me.

    Tomorrow is a brighter day Planet Orange.

  • Luka

    @foreveris2long

    Amen brotha. Frye has been trolling long enough here. That doofie mofo had gots to go.

  • Foreveris2long

    Luka, I am reserving a taxi for him after the last game of the season to permanently get him out of Arizona or at least until his career is over. As I think he has one year remaining on his contract, it may be difficult to find someone to take him off our hands. I am hoping.

  • sunsn7

    Foreveris, You summed it up about Frye. Aside from the Frye apologists, majority of Suns fans share your sentiment.

    And Hornacek needs to get his “game” in gear too. Frye kills the Suns because coach allows him too. Perhaps Horny needs to be less of a players coach and more of a Jerry Sloan?

    Just saying, Sloan would’ve glued Frye to the bench for his lack of effort long ago. Channing waves hard for the ball at the 3 stripe, puts more effort in that flailing wave than he ever does in the paint and on the glass.

    Him talking about “I think too much, need to do less thinking, more doing” (insert eye rolls here)

    Yo PJ! Do us a favor and go at Channing in practice. Help, no INSIST, that he gives as much effort as you and your teammates do.

    Please.

  • Foreveris2long

    Sunsn7, excellent idea about PJ making Frye man up during this stretch run. I am so sick of him putting his palms up when he runs into an opponent to set an illegal screen and the refs correctly call a foul and when he is on defense and lets his man blow by him for a layup. He has me yelling at the TV all night.

  • Anonymous

    GoPhx = Channing Frye

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  • bill_thomas

    You hire Solomon Jones, and you tell him when Westbrook, Lillard, Bazemore or anyone like that goes to dunk the ball, you smack’m on the ear with one hand and land him on his back.

    With Blake, you gotta smack’m with both hands 4 times. He’ll go down.

  • bill_thomas

    Why was Griffin dry-humping PJ ??????????????????