Based on the results of their games over the last few years it doesn't seem like the Suns and Clippers like each other very much. The next episode in this acrimonious rivalry will take place tonight as the Suns close out a three game road trip.
When: Monday December 8, 2014, 8:30 PM local time (10:30 EST)
Where: STAPLES Center Los Angeles, CA
Watch/Listen: TV: FOX Sports Arizona Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM
The Clippers mopped the floor with the Suns in a home game November 15th earlier this season 120-107. The game was tied at 54 at halftime before the Clippers blew the game open with a 42-20 third quarter. The only pyrotechnics in the second half of this game were due to extracurricural activites, with five players drawing a total of seven technical fouls and Matt Barnes and Gerald Green getting ejected.
Matt Barnes is a real peach.
Green scored 26 points in the loss with four threes prior to exiting stage left with a buck fifty seven left in the fourth quarter. Alex Len had one of the best games of his career as he tallied 17 points and 11 rebounds. The four starters not named Goran Dragic combined for 17 points with Eric Bledsoe managing just one on 0-6 shooting against his former team. The Suns' reserves outscored the starters 71-36.
Chris Paul drained three of his five triples at the start of the third quarter to stretch the lead to double digits and things unraveled quickly for Phoenix. Paul got the very slight upperhand on former teammate Bledsoe in the game as he outscored him by 31 points (32-1). DeAndre Jordan had a fairly inhuman line with 12 points, 18 boards and 7 blocks. That's a decent night at the office.
Last season the Clippers were a nemesis for the Suns, beating Phoenix three times over the last 23 games of the season while the Suns were making their (failed) push for the playoffs. In their last meeting on April 2, 2014 the Suns squandered a 17 point third quarter lead and collapsed in the fourth quarter. The Clippers outscored Phoenix 34-17 in the period to steal a 112-108 victory on the Suns' home floor. There were only three technicals in that game (Barnes, Paul, Bledsoe).
Going back a little further I'm sure most Suns fans can remember the Jared Dudley/Blake Griffin scuffle in 2012.
Los Angeles Clippers: 14-5
Points per game: 106.4 (4th) Points allowed: 98.5 (9th)
ORtg: 113.5 (3rd) DRtg: 105.1 (11th)
Since a sluggish 5-4 start the Clippers have won nine of their last ten games and have currently run off seven victories in a row. They are absolutely pistol whipping teams, too, winning each of their last five by at least 16 points. To put their stellar play even further into perspective, the Clippers just went 6-1 on a recent road trip.
That's pretty good.
Blake Griffin (22.9 points, 7.5 rebounds) and Chris Paul (17.9 points, 9.8 assists) still lead the charge, DeAndre Jordan (12.2 rebounds, 2.5 blocks) terrorizes the lane, Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick fill it up from three and Matt Barnes is basically a punk.
Phoenix Suns: 12-9
Points per game: 105.2 (5th) Points allowed: 103.1 (25th)
ORtg: 107.7 (11th) DRtg: 105.5 (14th)
The Suns shot just 36.6% from the field against Houston after blistering the Dallas Mavericks for 56.3% the previous night and hitting exactly 50% against the Indiana Pacers prior to that. Of course the embarrassing loss to the Orlando Magic, in which the Suns shot just 40%, preceded these efforts and illustrates just how uneven Phoenix's play has been recently.
Goran Dragic appears to be pulling out of his early season swoon and is now leading the team with 16 points per game, but the Suns are still scoring by committee with five players averaging at least 14.5 per game. Super subs Gerald Green and Isaiah Thomas are ninth and tenth in the NBA in points per minute among players with at least 10 appearances this season. Thomas will be a game time decision.
What To Watch For:
A Donnybrook: Maybe I'm inventing this, but these teams really don't seem to like each other. I know for sure that I don't like the Clippers. The triumvirate of Paul, Griffin and Barnes is the most repugnant of any team in the NBA. Barnes, especially, has his very own place in my cold dead heart. I'm setting the over/under for technical fouls at 2.5 and I really hope the Suns put a savage beating on these fools.
Kieff: Morris was just 2-10 from the field in his last meeting against the Clippers and finished with as many fouls (five) as points. Not good. In his last game against the Rockets he was a ghastly 2-14 and finished with more fouls (six) than points (four). Again... not good. Markieff has been generally very productive this season, with those two games very probably his worst of the season. If he can offset the impact of Blake Griffin the Suns will have a great chance to win this game. Yes, I realize that's a asking a lot.
Bledsoe: Eric has failed to have a standout game against his former team, totaling just 22 points in three games. His matchup against Paul is another that could swing the game.
Isaiah's Ankle: Phoenix could really use his scoring punch back in the lineup. Not only for tonight's game, but to let Hornacek distribute the minutes in a manner that lightens the load for tomorrow's back to back against the Miami Heat.
The Final Word(s):
Have I mentioned I don't like the Clippers?
This would be a huge win for the Suns, especially since there is no expectation that this is a game they "should" or "need to" win. Total house money situation.
With the white hot stretch of basketball the Clippers are in the midst of it will be a tall order.
Hopefully the Suns will at least come out with a burning passion and seething vitriol befitting this inimical rivalry. Hopefully some shots will fall, too.
My prediction: please don't get blown out.