Phoenix Suns: What Exactly Went Wrong in Game 5 vs Los Angeles Clippers?

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns carried all momentum imaginable into their Game 5 contest vs the Los Angeles Clippers last night. Flying back to Phoenix, with Cameron Payne looking fully healthy, Deandre Ayton still killing it, and Devin Booker licking his chops at another close-out opportunity, all signs pointed to a Suns series victory, and consequential NBA Finals berth.

That all turned sideways though just minutes into the game, when the Clippers shot out to a 20-5 lead. Marcus Morris, who struggled insurmountably during all contests before, carried his team like a king early on, starting with 13 points while going 6-7 from the field. Reggie Jackson added 12 points, hitting 2-3 from outside.

Clippers secondary players simply killed the Phoenix Suns

Mook continued to rain fire all over Phoenix throughout the second quarter as well. Although the Suns eventually pulled it together, stretching out a 12-0 run to bring themselves back into it, they only managed to tread water from that point on, failing to break into the lead until much later.

At the break, the Suns trailed 52-59. A buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Booker helped them sneak under the double-digit deficit mark, but the Clippers still looked like the more governing party after the first half’s conclusion.

Most foresaw a massive performance from Paul George as the only thing that capable of keeping the Suns off the NBA Finals stage for yet another night. But PG13 started relatively quiet by those standards with only 11 points, shooting 5-8 from the field.

Playing more minutes during the first half than combined over his last two games, DeMarcus Cousins instead helped Morris and Jackson badger the Suns. He finished the first half with 10 points. Meanwhile, the Suns looked a bit dry outside Booker, who lead the team with 19 points at the break.

Taking only five shots, Ayton went back through the tunnel with only six points following a career night for him. Chris Paul clawed slightly ahead as the team’s next best scorer, but only with nine points at the time.

Paul George toasted the Phoenix Suns in the second half

Once the second half began though, George kicked things into high gear. Scoring 20 points during the third quarter, George went 7-8 from the field, including three 3-pointers. It helped the Clippers inflate their lead back into the double-digit arena, leading 91-78 to start the fourth.

The Clippers survived an 11-2 run from Phoenix shortly after, but then never looked back. Jackson hit two 3-pointers, then converted a steal into a slam dunk, silencing the Phoenix faithful with resolve.

George added another 10 points during the final period, bringing his scoring output to 41 points. It came as a playoff career high for him, joining Cousins who put up his best playoff scoring performance as well with 15 points.

What was the real undoing for the Phoenix Suns?

With the Suns repeatedly clawing back into this one, only to then watch the Clippers enjoy a quick-hitting run, this loss tracks back to their 15-point deficit to start the contest. Momentum wise, the it seemed exhaustive for the Suns to string together solid possessions, only to still find themselves trailing by one or two possessions during the entire contest.

It became just too much for the Suns to overcome, with the their deficit fluctuating between five and ten points, rather than trading leads like during the game before it. This too made it difficult for Phoenix fans to stay active and influence the contest, surely playing as a large factor in its own right.

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For this reason, it remains imperative that the Suns come out hot during Game 6 on Wednesday night, especially while engulfed by a turbulent sea of Los Angeles fans. When leading after the first quarter, the Suns own an 8-1 record so far during the postseason. Establishing some insurance points must become a point of emphasis for this next contest. If not, the Suns might find themselves heading back home, this time without any momentum.