Clippers move to 3-0, keep Suns winless

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[November 01, 2016]  LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't the cleanest exhibition of Los Angeles Clippers' basketball, but it was spotless at times and enough to get past the Phoenix Suns.

Chris Paul scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half and the Clippers routed the winless Suns 116-98 on Monday night at Staples Center.

Paul also had eight assists and five rebounds. Blake Griffin added 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the Clippers (3-0).

"I thought we were sloppy with the ball, myself in particular," said Griffin, who made 12 of 14 free throws. "I think we did what we wanted to do towards the end of the first half, created a lead and played good basketball. The second half we came out and we were sloppy and then we picked it back up. That's a good thing."

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan showed no ill effects from a sprained right thumb suffered in Sunday's win over the Utah Jazz, finishing with 19 points and 11 boards. Jamal Crawford added 14 points and J.J. Redick scored 13.

"I feel great," said Jordan, who hit eight of 10 attempts from the field and three of six foul shots.

"It was a scary play for a second. I really wanted to play basketball. I don't want to miss any games. My teammates were definitely on me about getting it taken care of, but I'm fine."

The Suns weren't. They were without guard Devin Booker, who sat out with a sore right big toe. Booker apparently aggravated the injury in Sunday's 106-100 loss to Golden State.

"Like I said, not having one player for us is major," Suns coach Earl Watson said. "We need every player to be healthy, every player to be on the court and be active and have a role. We're all are parts that we need each other to create a total sum."

Brandon Knight started in Booker's place and led the Suns with 18 points. T.J. Warren had 15 points and Alex Lin came off the bench to score 13 for Phoenix (0-4).

Eric Bledsoe contributed 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Suns.

"We always get in foul trouble early," Bledsoe said. "They were shooting free throws the whole game."

The Suns were whistled for 33 fouls compared to 23 for the Clippers. However, that wasn't what beat the Suns.

"The effort was there we just couldn't get stops," Warren said.

Los Angeles broke the game open midway through the third quarter. Two free throws by Knight allowed the Suns to close within 56-55 with 7:12 remaining in the quarter. However, the Clippers used a 22-9 spurt, capped by two foul shots by Marreese Speights, for a 78-63 lead with 1:56 left in the third.

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Suns guard Brandon Knight (11) collides with Los Angeles Clippers center Marreese Speights (5) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Suns never recovered.

Defense again was the key for Los Angeles.

"I think our (defensive improvement) started last year and just carried over," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "We regressed for like three minutes tonight before halftime, we had a chance to go up big and we went to turnovers, trying to make home run plays and they cut the lead."

The Clippers rallied from a 31-28 deficit in the second quarter with a 16-5 run for a 44-33 advantage after dunk by Griffin with 3:14 left in the second quarter. They led 48-36 at the break, outscoring the Suns 24-12 in the second.

Fifteen first-half turnovers, 11 of those in the second quarter, also hurt the Suns. The Clippers committed nine miscues, four of those occurring in the second quarter.

Overall, Phoenix turned the ball over 21 times (leading to 16 points) compared with 16 (23 points) for Los Angeles.

The Clippers outshot the Suns 50 percent to 41.7 percent from the field.

NOTES: Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Suns F T.J. Warren, who led Phoenix in scoring at 23.3 points per game coming in, caught his eye early last season. "He's a professional scorer at a young age," Rivers said. "He had an awful game that game against us, but you could see the raw ability that he has. He has timing, feel, change of pace. He's going to be a great scorer in our league." ... Suns coach Earl Watson said PG Chris Paul, not F Blake Griffin or C DeAndre Jordan, remains the most integral player for the Clippers. "Chris is a coach on the floor, he reads the game, everything he does is with a purpose," Watson said. ... Both clubs resume play Wednesday at home. Phoenix plays the Portland Trail Blazers, and Los Angeles meets the Oklahoma City Thunder.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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