Preview: Los Angeles Clippers (53-22) vs. Phoenix Suns (44-30)

Time: 7 p.m. MST


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A review of the Sunday night loss to the Los Angeles Lakers saw the Suns look almost perturbed in running back to match up against a fast-paced team, and even in the halfcourt, Phoenix seemed bothered if they needed to help their teammates from the weakside and annoyed when the Lakers scored when that didn’t happen.

It probably had Jeff Hornacek scratching his head, too.

This was an opportunity, maybe the Suns’ last one of the year. And they blew it, not because they didn’t match up well with Chris Kaman, the center who thrived despite recently clashing with his coach. It was all because the Suns didn’t appear to care about trying to stop him.

The effort excuse is used a lot in basketball, but usually it’s about an effort in focusing for every play, or the effort in trying to fix problems. But the Suns’ problems in a 115-99 loss that broke a six-game winning streak was about not running back hard enough and not racing to teammates’ aide when matchups were mixed up the a hectic race to the other end of the court.

If the Suns do the same Wednesday night at home against the Los Angeles Clippers, the result will be much, much worse for a team locked in the standings with the Memphis Grizzlies and a half-game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks, who fell in overtime to the Warriors on Tuesday.

Luckily for Phoenix, Los Angeles will probably not be at full strength.

Forward Blake Griffin, who scored 37 points against the Suns on March 10, a 112-105 Clippers win, is doubtful with a back injury, reports the Los Angeles Times. Bench spark plug Jamal Crawford is dealing with an Achilles injury.

Los Angeles’ last outing, a 114-104 win Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, was the third win in a row for the Clippers. Chris Paul, Darren Collison and DeAndre Jordan have still been plugging along, and though the bench is short, Doc Rivers’ crew won’t be an easy victory for Phoenix.

Can Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic limit the guards?

There’s a strong belief that a defensive-minded point guard could be as valuable as a shot-blocking center. A disrupted offense that never gets to attack might be better than one that stops buckets in the paint, and Bledsoe will be able to put that philosophy to work against his former mentor, Chris Paul.

Paul scored 30 points two games ago, when Los Angeles dropped the Houston Rockets 118-107. But a dual point guard lineup that includes the speedy Darren Collison is an issue for Phoenix. Collison scored 28 against the Timberwolves, and Goran Dragic might be a liability on him rather than Paul. Whatever the Suns do, it needs to limit the scoring ability of the Clippers duo, especially since the scoring might be hard to come by elsewhere.

Can the Suns starters carry their weight?

It’s happened a lot this season. The starters get off to a slow start and the bench cleans up the mess. Against a Clippers team likely missing Crawford and also Danny Granger, the bench should be able to at the least keep an even plus-minus for Hornacek’s team.

So the pressure is on the starters, many of whom hit a major wall against the Lakers on Sunday. Bledsoe, Channing Frye and P.J. Tucker went 4-for-24. Frye, Tucker and Miles Plumlee had enough trouble on both ends of the court that Hornacek didn’t play any of them for more than 19 minutes. A rebound is in order if Phoenix wants to hang with Dallas and Memphis.

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

Doc Rivers’ teams play hard, and the Clippers are hitting a confident stride as the postseason approaches. Last time out, P.J. Tucker earned a suspension for a tussle with Blake Griffin. Goran Dragic and Chris Paul go at it as if they’re not best of friends.

Will it get chippy? And if so, will the Suns keep their cool?

  • Foreveris2long

    I will say this, two inches make a significant difference (nothing from you Hawki) when defending the low post. Due to it being a slow night I watched the Lakers play Portland until Portland started running away with it. Lopez who seems to be 7’1″ defended Kaman much better than 6’11″ Plumlee. Portland did not have to help or sag much, allowing the team to play better perimeter defense.

    Fortunately since D. Jordan is not an offensive threat the Suns simply need to keep him off the offensive glass. Therefore the perimeter defense should be better provided the Suns also play with more urgency.

    Great point Zimm about the necessity to keep the Clipper guards out of the paint. When teams get penetration and Frye or Markief is defending the low post it is a disaster because they are not shot blockers. However Markief with decent lateral foot speed is better than Frye defensively. Slowing their penetration is a necessity to a win.

  • sunsn7

    Should I go out on a limb, Hawki? ; D

  • sunsn7

    …Clippers by 7.

  • Brenton

    Plumlee, Frye, and Morris need to man up tonight and keep the Clips off the glass. I think Bledsoe/Dragic can hold their own with Collison and Paul, but that front line killed the Suns last time they played.

  • EBJM

    Hey Forever, since you brought it up.

    Using our bible for player measurements; Miles stands 6’11.75″ to 7’0.5″ for Robin, a difference of .75″.

    BUT Robin has a wingspan of 7’5.5″ compared to 7’0.75″ for Miles and Robin enjoys a 9’5″ to 8’9.5″ advantage at standing reach.

    Interesting fact, Draftexpress has Marcin Gortat as Miles’s best case scenario while listing Gortat as Robin’s worst case scenario.

    Sort of a six degrees of separation of the Suns last three starting centers.

    IMO, Robin simply defends better but yeah, having that extra six inches in length doesn’t hurt.

  • EBJM

    Alex Len kept Jordan in check and once Hornacek sat Len, Jordan grabbed every rebound in sight. Speaking of how having that extra length helps, Alex Len has a wingspan of 7’3.5″.

  • EBJM

    A last thought on length, Frye has a wingspan of 7’2.5″ and a standing reach of 9′-2.5″. All he has to do is hold his position, well first establish his position and he becomes an above average defender based on his length.

    Problem is he struggles to establish and then hold his position. Hard to figure since according to his predraft tests he isn’t that bad of an athlete. Gortat was drafted the same year and ranked 17th overall while Frye ranked a respectable #33 overall.

    Specifically he was impressive with the bench press with 19 overall reps compared to 18 for Gortat. They ranked 3rd and 4th overall for their draft class.

  • Foreveris2long

    EBJM, my man. That is great stuff. Obviously the reach is very important. When you can defend your own man in the post and can provide good help defense the team defense improves. I think Len gets more minutes if he is ready for the passes on offense. I think Coach Horny blows a fuse when his hands are not ready which results in a turnover.

  • Brenton

    If you watch Frye, when he wants to and tries hard, he is a good defender, its just that most of the time he wusses out and plays something between all-star game level defense and old-man pickup game defense.

  • hawki

    Sunsn7…..Great Call :)

    Forever….I’m getting too old for those “2 inch” jokes.
    In fact, I’m so old, I was masturbating the other day & my hand went to sleep :)

  • Foreveris2long

    See Hawki, you are sick. We are going to find you some help soon.

  • john


    That’s an insult to old men. Take it back!

  • EBJM

    Hawki, I’m sure Sunsn7 would love to give you a hand!

  • hawki

    btw Forever…..Unbelievable ruling by the Supreme Court today….although entirely predictable.

  • sunsn7

    EBJM has a man crush on me. How cute :D

  • sunsn7

    Step off E! There will be no bromance!

  • Raffi aka Anonymous

    Deondre with a career high 40 pts 30 rebounds tonight

  • hawki

    Suns are Doc’s Sports Pick of the Day


  • Foreveris2long

    EBJM, Did not hear about the ruling. Give me a brief storyline so I can look it up tonight. I actually have been working today so I have missed a few things.

  • EBJM

    Forever they struck down the overall donation cap that an individual can give during a two year election cycle. They tied cap limits as a violation of the 1st amendment. Eighty-eight page decision. I’m sleepy just thinking about reading it.

  • EBJM

    Sunsn7, what do you mean there will be no bromance? Don’t you mean that there will no longer be one?

  • Rengaw

    The last time these two teams tangled, Blake Griffin went to his phony pro wrestling mode in body slamming Tucker…..that is the way I saw it.

    Tonight, I predict, Blake trys his flop-like tactics on Markief’s short temper and gets The Twins for his trouble.

  • foreveris2long

    Thanks EBJM. I am going to trust your read. I have been hired as an insurance expert in a United States District Court case and it is keeping me really busy.

  • hawki

    Forever….actually I posed the Supreme Court question, not EBJM…but EBJM’s thumbnail analysis is correct.

    I will only paraphrase the words of the late, great George Carlin….
    “There’s a Rich Man’s Club out there….and we ain’t in it”.

    ps….thought Blake Griffin was sidelined for tonight’s game?

  • EBJM

    Warriors and Grizzlies lose! The Morri and Green will carry the Suns to victory!

    Frye sucks!

  • foreveris2long

    I am losing my mind Hawki. Thanks. I am looking forward to the Supreme Court ruling on whether a corp (Hobby Lobby) can assert freedom of religion in opposing the contraceptive aspect of the Affordable Care Act. I think we will get a ruling in June.

    Man rooting for a young team puts you on a roller coaster. We make a lot of dumb fouls. Then again Coach probably preached intensity after the lackluster affair in LA. We are in a really good position considering the lack of production we got from Bled and Dragic. Thank Goodness Green showed in the 2nd quarter. Wow, Memphis and Warriors lost tonight. Come on Suns turn it on but go light on the fouls.

  • David

    They really don’t let you touch Chris Paul do they?

  • phx suns fan in la

    Bledsoe still looks tired or uninterested

  • sunsn7

    Channing Frye needs to sit. his defensive awareness or LACK THEREOF is a Suns killer.

    Just knew once Hornacek kept him in for the 4th this lead was in real danger of evaporating. If they choke THIS one away…

  • sunsn7

    The occasional 3 that Frye drops does not make up for the buckets he gives up right at the basket with his trademark TOKEN RESISTANCE defensively.

  • sunsn7

    Frye airballs a 3, then next possession whips a stupid, errant pass right into the hands of the defense.

    More than frustrating watching another Suns choke job

  • phx suns fan in la

    Yea down 4 doesnt look good

  • phx suns fan in la

    The dragon has to be the one to take that last shot. Not bledsoe…

  • sunsn7

    Exactly sunsfaninla

    Hornacek accomodated Bledsoe’s desire to stick it to his old team instead of giving it to the Suns MVP.

    Another head scratcher for coach Jeff Hornacek.

  • clipperwinnerchickendinner

    Like folding clothes. Tedious

  • sunsn7

    Dont mind Bledsoe taking the last shot but with 16 seconds Dragic should of gotten a touch.

  • clipperwinnerchickendinner

    Just like the suns… Folded and molded! Bring on your draft party hardy tards

  • clipperwinnerchickendinner


  • Sunsfansince90

    What’s going on with Bledsoe?

  • Ash

    Collison took it to Bledsoe during a stretch of 2/3 possessions … And he tried to answer with a boneheaded 3. That and a couple of blown Frye plays allowed them to get right back in the game … I seriously hope the Suns don’t end up resigning Bledsoe to a max deal. He is talented but surely not worth max money

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