Defense the story behind the Suns third quarter surge
Conceding 59 first half points was not the way the Suns wanted to start the post-season. However, in the third quarter the defensive intensity that has been a trademark of this team all season showed up. Phoenix held Los Angeles to just 22 third quarter points, the lowest of any quarter for the Clippers.
The defense was important for Phoenix, as Durant and DBook went quiet for much of the quarter combining for six points, with all six coming from Booker. Fortunately for Phoenix, Craig continued his hard work, running out for a couple of layups and leading the team with eleven points in the quarter including a big three pointer late in the quarter.
Of course, the game is about more than just scoring and the hidden story inside much of the quarter and the game was foul trouble for Phoenix. Four of Phoenix’s five starters had at least three fouls by the end of the third quarter with only Paul not to three.
That foul trouble led to more time on the bench than Monty Williams likely wanted for Craig and Ayton in particular, who are both a big part of the team’s defensive plan. For Booker and Durant, the frequent calls left both layers spending too much time squawking at the officials. As a result, although Phoenix was able to take the lead in the third, the Suns could not pull away and they entered the fourth quarter tied at 81.