The Phoenix Suns have been able to stay relatively healthy this season, but it seems like the injuries have been piling up recently, making it a bit easier than expected for the Los Angeles Clippers, led by Blake Griffin and Matt Barnes to come away with the 104-96 win.
Matt Barnes scored 28 points to lead the Clippers, scoring 18 of his points in the third quarter, when the Clippers broke away for good with a 37-18 quarter. Blake Griffin did most of the work in the final quarter, having no opposition in the post, finishing with 22 points.
The Clippers had their entire lineup in double figures – Chris Paul scored 14 points on a rough shooting night (4-of-14), but Darren Collison added 18 points and DeAndre Jordan finished with 10, as they shot 40% from beyond the arc and 51.3% from the field, without having too many opportunities on the break, simply making the most of good ball movement and the Suns finding it very difficult to deny open shots.
The Suns are already missing Eric Bledsoe and Miles Plumlee, but now Leandro Barbosa is out as well. It might not be big names, but for a team that relies on TEAM and chemistry, owing it to their very surprising success, it seems that at some point they might be spread to thin and unable to avoid the losses that might pile up and even cost them a spot in the playoffs.
While Goran Dragic is playing well, the Suns aren’t that worried, but the Slovenian had a rough game against Paul with 14 points and 5-of-14 from the field. That made it very difficult for Gerald Green to get his usual open shots, as he hit only 6-of-19 from the field, unable to connect on anything that wasn’t a 3-pointer.
The Clippers had their starters sort out the mess, with Willie Green and his 13 minutes being the most for any bench player on the Clippers. They took advantage of Alex Len being soft and the Suns not having too much of a backup for the rookie center, forcing the defense to squeeze and not having the speed to recover, especially in the third quarter when Matt Barnes kept finding himself open to knockdown shot after shot, finishing with 12-of-17 from the field and 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.
The Suns are a good team, but they’re obviously less than the complete package. Goran Dragic can make up for a lot, as it turns out this season, but when their offense and ball movement aren’t clicking, finding it difficult to force their wild basketball style on a game, they also end up having to play too much half court possessions on both ends of the floor.
Doc Rivers isn’t going to be happy until he sees a complete, four-quarter performance from his team, but the way they responded to their awful second quarter was quite pleasing for him to see. The rotation and intensity on defense, which aren’t the most consistent things for the Clippers, were there to limit the Suns to only 39 points, The rest, this time, was up to Barnes, showing once again that despite Paul and Griffin, there’s a lot more for this team to offer.