Los Angeles Clippers 112, Phoenix Suns 108 -- Paullin' out


PHOENIX – During the game on Wednesday night Chris Paul didn’t get under Goran Dragic’s skin, but he sure got under his jersey. And when it was all said and done, the Los Angeles Clippers point guard likely got under coach Jeff Hornacek’s skin.

Paul propelled Los Angeles to a 112-108 win with 20 points and nine assists. He frustrated Dragic into a 2-for-11 shooting night, and though The Dragon scored 11 of his 15 points at the foul stripe, the damage was done. Paul also hit the go-ahead shot, a deep three-pointer at the end of a shot clock that gave Los Angeles a 108-106 lead with less than two minutes to play.

The Suns put eight players into double-figures and played lively defense.

But even an injured Blake Griffin scored 23 points, tying guard Darren Collison for the game high.

The effort from Phoenix, in general, was more spirited than the loss to the Lakers on Sunday.

Phoenix finally got forward Channing Frye involved in the third quarter, when he hit a three-pointer, his first bucket of the game, 2:30 into the second half. Two minutes later, he drilled another three that gave the Suns a 76-69 lead, their largest to that point.

P.J. Tucker also came alive in the second half, grabbing nine rebounds and scoring eight points to follow up his quiet prior six quarters.

The Suns lead grew to as many as 17, and they went into the fourth quarter with a 91-78 advantage thanks to holding Los Angeles to 18 third-quarter points.

Doc Rivers wanted revenge and went with a revenge lineup during the fourth quarter. He ran out Jared Dudley, and for the first time in the game, Hedo Turkoglu, to take it to their old Suns team, and the Clippers ripped down the double-digit lead and then some. The Suns lost the fourth quarter 34-17.

It would be Dudley, the former Sun, closing out the game on free throws as loose balls when the Clippers way and Phoenix struggled to get easy looks come crunch time.

Once again, the Suns failed to make headway in the playoff race. The Memphis Grizzlies lost 102-88 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Golden State Warriors fell to the San Antonio Spurs 111-90.

To the pregame questions.

Can Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic limit the guards?

While Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic had fairly good success against Chris Paul early on, foul trouble aside, the Suns struggled to contain Darren Collison, the little-talked-about but highly productive point guard who’s started alongside Paul for the injury-plagued Clips. Collison scored 17 points by halftime and 23 for the game.

The real story was Paul and Collison containing the Suns’ explosive backcourt. Dragic had 15 points and eight assists while Bledsoe added 14 points and five turnovers.

Can the Suns starters carry their weight?

There wasn’t a slow start early for Phoenix. The Suns’ pregame warmups included high-school level rebel rousing throughout – at one point Gerald Green took a football style snap and launched a three with two blockers and two defensive ends rushing him – and the starting unit came out of the gates looking just as loose.

Phoenix trailed 30-25 after a quarter, but it wasn’t necessarily anything pressing that built a slight deficit. Offensively, however, the bench unit bailed the Suns starters out again. Channing Frye went scoreless until 2:30 had expired in the third quarter, P.J. Tucker hit a lone three early in the game and Eric Bledsoe battle foul trouble.

Marcus Morris and Gerald Green caught fire off the bench, combining for 30 between them in the first half and getting another nine points from Markieff Morris.

In the second half, it was a different story. Frye and Tucker accounted for three-point plays in two different ways, and the Suns built a double-digit lead. The bench, however, went cold in the second half.

Can the Suns grind with Doc’s team without losing their heads?

Bledsoe picked up a technical foul following his third personal foul, which came on a drawn charge by Jared Dudley with very little contact and after Bledsoe had already kicked the ball out to the perimeter.

Also in the second quarter, Chris Paul picked up an offensive foul attempting to post Goran Dragic and after the whistle blew was called for a technical after a little extra-curricular activity with Dragic.

  • DBreezy

    Not the worst loss of the year, but all things considered probably the most disappointing. A real opportunity squandered in a tough scheduling landscape.

  • sunsn7

    50 wins?

    A resounding “NO”

    Frye continues to kill thecSuns defensively. Certainly wasn’t a coincidence that lead evaporated with Frye’s 4th qtr on court lack of presence. Way to finally bench him with under a minute to go coach!

    And Suns MVP Dragic needed to touch ball on final possession instead of accomodating Bledsoe’s desire to stick it to hos former team.

    This game was especially frustrating for the way the lead was choked away.

  • sunsn7

    Local media outlets never seem to write articles or much of anything as far as directing deserved critism towards one, Channing Frye…..

  • Sunsfansince90

    It’s going to be awfully hard to make the playoffs over bigger, more experienced teams like Dallas and Memphis. At this point, I’ll be happy with a winning record for the season.

  • sunsn7

    As a Suns fan, I’d like to thank P.J. Tucker for his all out hustle and intensity tonight. It didn’t go unnoticed.

    Out.

  • EBJM

    The Morri and Green on the court and the Suns are winning, put Frye back in and ……..

    I really dislike Frye.

  • clipperwinnerchickendinner

    Bledsoe < Collison – Suns always get the leftovers we let bledsoe go so we could sign a more talented player thanks for taking the bait oh btw duds barnes and turkey give their regards bahaha

  • Raffi aka Anonymous

    Need clips to beat Dallas Tom too

  • DBreezy

    2145-1771. 1329-2213.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    DBreezy……w/o looking it up, I would say those are the All-Time records of the Suns & Clippers.

    Are the Suns finally tanking to get the 14th pick ?

    Len gets a DNP with DeAndre Jordan on the court ?

    Does Bledsoe REALLY want to be here ?

    Those & a few more questions need to be answered in a very important up-coming off-season…..more important than the last month of this season.

    ps….Frye’s days are numbered.

  • Dave:f32

    No way to spin this loss. Suns had a 17 point lead and were looking for a knockout punch, but got knocked out in turn.

    Losing that lead was the worst. To top it off, there bigs were dunking all over the Suns. Even Barnes got in on the act. No excuse for the Suns getting their butts handed to them. At home, no less!

    P.S. You ever wonder why there are more comments after the games the Suns win? Just wondering…

    #playoffsNE1?

  • EBJM

    Wow a Clipper troll! A stupid one at that! Clips traded Bledsoe to acquire J.J. Redick and Dudley.

    Five days later they signed free-agent Collison to replace Bledsoe using their mid-level exception.

    So what that means is they traded Chris Paul’s back-up for two starters in Reddick who isn’t even playing anymore and Dudley who lost his job to Barnes and they tried to dump.

    After leaving Phoenix Barnes was dumped by the Magic and Lakers.

    Hey Clipperwinnerchickendinner you must be one of those bandwagon fans. How did you enjoy those twenty consecutive losing seasons before you signed Chris Paul and drafted Blake Griffin?

  • foreveris2long

    Absolutely a tough loss. I think the Clippers announcers got it right when before the 4th quarter they were wondering if the team had an offensive all-star to take over when the game gets tight with everything on the line. They indicated the Suns had promising future all-stars but they were not battle tested like M. Gasol, Dirk, S. Curry, et al. I think there is a difference having playoff experience as a sub and being a star on a team trying carrying the load trying to make the playoffs.

    No one got hot for the Suns at home in the 4th quarter. There is no way Bled is 100%. Fans wanted to rush him back after missing 34 games but they want or expect him to play at the pre-injury level. I doubt those expectations are reasonable. When I say he is not 100%, it is more not being use to game speed decisions and not trusting the injury where you do not think about it. He doesn’t have the pre-injury confidence. I know it easy to judge his play today based on what you want from him and seeing spurts of the old Bled but I am not sure that is realistic considering how many games he missed. He is still playing while thinking and basketball is an impulsive game.

    Yeah Frye sucks which is why Coach Horny pulled his sorry butt after air balling a three and throwing the ball away as Sunsn7 pointed out above. He does not have the heart of a lion which is too bad as he is the team veteran.

    For what it is worth the Clipper announcers are really impressed with the Suns future, considering the young talent and future assets the team possesses.

  • Elviro (Italy)

    We are also doing a great season … beyond expectations!
    If we were to go to the playoffs good!
    Otherwise I would like to know from you how we made ??to the draft …. what and how many choices do we have?
    Thanks in advance to those who will clarify the issue …!
    Come on Suns!

  • john

    I was at the game last night. I’m pretty sure I’m just going to be done with the NBA. Its officiating woes are simply too much to handle for me. There were so many bad calls both ways last night that ruined the game for me. We’ll see if this lasts. I love the Suns, but I get way too angry watching NBA games knowing that when whistles are blown, the right call isn’t on its way.

  • DBreezy

    Hawki,

    You were absolutely correct on those numbers. Nuff said on that!

  • DBreezy

    John,

    There’s someone I get to hang out with from time to time who is a longtime NBA ref(not saying who). I have had similar conversations with him over beers and it’s very interesting to hear/see it from their pov. In general they see what they do as far as less subjective than we as fans do. I don’t agree, but it’s what they say. I have another friend who refs D1 college who says the same thing. Each level seems to think the complaints only apply to the refs that are doing the job in league’s lower than their own. NBA-NBDL-D1 college-D2-high school and so on.