The Clippers won their fifth consecutive game, downing the
Phoenix Suns 104-96 Tuesday night.
With 20 games to play, Los Angeles is 42-20, 4 1/2 games ahead of
the second-place Golden State Warriors and six games ahead of the
fading, third-place Suns, losers of four of their past six.
The Clippers matched their longest winning streak of the season
while earning their eighth victory in 10 games.
Forward Matt Barnes led the Clippers with 28 points, making 12 of 17
shots from the field.
Barnes exploded for 14 points in a 4:15 stretch just after halftime.
He hit four 25-footers and a short jumper, erasing Phoenix's
hard-earned, 55-44 halftime lead and tying the score at 66.
"When the basket is that big, you want to keep getting looks," said
Barnes, who admitted being a little lost before the trade deadline
but recently has been aggressive enough to take what the defense
Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin, who took over late, had 22
points, six assists and five rebounds. Clippers center DeAndre
Jordan added 10 points and 17 boards.
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, talking about the difficulty of guarding
Griffin, said, "If you try to come over with a big, they just lob
over the top to Jordan.
"If you come with a guard or a wing, they kick it out and Barnes
shoots it. Or Chris Paul drives it again and kicks it out. They make
it very tough on you when he dominates in there."
For the Suns, forward P.J. Tucker had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Guard Gerald Green scored 17 points but shot just 6-for-19 from the
The Clippers held Suns guard Goran Dragic to 14 points. He added
The Suns (35-25) hurt their chances by making just 11 of 19 free
Danny Granger made his Clippers debut. The former Indiana Pacers
forward had one rebound in four minutes.
The Suns shut down the Clippers' offense late in the first quarter,
enabling them to take off on a 16-2 run that turned an early 22-14
deficit into a 30-24 lead early in the second quarter.
Then, in the closing minutes of the first half, the Suns took off on
a 13-5 run for an 11-point halftime lead. Dragic filled the
highlight reel during that span, nailing a 3-pointer before stealing
a pass from Barnes and taking off for a fast-break layup.
Then Barnes lit up the Suns, and the game was even.
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With the Suns leading 69-68, Griffin hit a short jumper and then a
turnaround banker. That propelled the Clippers on a 13-2 run for an
81-71 lead near the end of the third quarter.
The Clippers ran the lead to 90-75 before the Suns battled back one
final time. Green hit two 3-pointers and a 2-pointer that bounced
high, around the rim and in to cut Los Angeles' lead to 97-94 with
Griffin then hit a banker, and the Clippers coasted home.
"In the first half, it felt like (the Suns) were in a playoff game,"
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "In the second half, we joined them,
and it turned into a really good game, especially for us."
Griffin agreed: "For the whole team to fight through adversity was
huge. I think that's going to serve us well, especially in the
Leandro Barbosa, the Suns' backup shooting guard, fractured his left
hand during the first half. According to the team, he won't need
surgery, but he will be sidelined indefinitely. Barbosa has been in
and out of the Suns' rotation due to injuries since his return to
the team this season. He averages 7.8 points per game.
Barbosa's absence could create playing time for rookie Archie
Los Angeles guard/forward Jared Dudley came out in the fourth
quarter with what appeared to be a back problem. The Clippers
already were down two shooting guards, Jamal Crawford (calf) and
J.J. Reddick (multiple injuries). Crawford could return at any time,
but Reddick might be out for an extended time.
NOTES: F Danny Granger made his Clippers debut. Granger might be a
stranger to the team's playbook, "but if you throw an offensive guy
the ball, he should know how to score," coach Doc Rivers said. ... C
Alex Len, the No. 5 pick in the draft, made his first start for the
Suns in place of C Miles Plumlee, who has a sprained right knee.
During his rookie season for the Indiana Pacers, Plumlee played 55
minutes. He has played more than 1,500 minutes for the Suns. Len
scored six points in 19 minutes Tuesday. ... Suns G Goran Dragic
began the night shooting 51 percent from the floor, including 41
percent on 3-pointers. The only Phoenix players who went 50/40
during an entire season among players who have qualified for the
league leader board were Steve Nash (six times) and Jeff Hornacek
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