So what if everyone said the Phoenix Suns are supposed to tank and be among the worst in the Western conference? Whatever Jeff Hornacek started doing with this team, it’s working beyond the wildest expectations, as Goran Dragic led them through a rough night for Eric Bledsoe to an impressive 107-88 win on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Suns simply ran and ran, with the Clippers being unable to catch up. Dragic scored 26 points and added 8 assists (the Suns finished with 26), as they played their style of basketball close to perfection, making it impossible for the Clippers, who have changed in the last couple of years to become a big more traditional and effective in the half-court in order to “grow up”, to catch up.
This is our game. We try to play a fast, up-tempo game, and I think things are going to be much better if you play like that. Playing a half-court game is really tough for us, so we have to push the ball and try to get everybody involved. And when we get into the open court, we have all those open shooters. It was a huge win for us, especially in L.A. We knew it was going to be a hard game. They’re a really good team, a playoff team, and they have a lot of stars. So our job was to play them strong — especially in the first half — and force them to play our rhythm. We did a good job of that.
We had 26 assists, so we did a better job of pushing the pace and executing. It’s not like we’re shooting off the wall, but guys are taking the right shots most of the time. Hopefully we can remember how hard we played tonight and can continue that into the new year so we can stay in that groove we’re in.
The Suns shot 48.2% from the field and 38.7% from beyond the arc. However, their pressing led to 20 turnovers from the Clippers and 17 steals, scoring 18 fast break points and simply exhausting the Clippers’ starters, who at some point were pulled out of the game, giving the Clippers a bit of garbage time dominance.
That might be the surprising fact about the Suns – their defense. There isn’t a rare perimeter stopper or shot blocker that locks down the paint, but the pressure and energy, combined with the kind of focus they had for the first three quarters, makes up for individual inferiority. There are plenty of good teams in the NBA, but it’s always refreshing to see one doing so well, basing their success on team basketball and not one star ignoring the rest.
Doc Rivers might want the Clippers to be that team but for now, with bad nights from Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, there isn’t really a Plan B.
They just kept pushing it at us. On a night like this when our offense isn’t going, we have to be able to rely on our defense. Tonight we couldn’t. I don’t think they caught us off guard. We knew how they were going to play. They hit us in the mouth early, and they just dominated us through and through. Luckily it only counts as one loss.