The Clippers closed out the game and kept it out of reach for the Suns tonight.

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns took on the Los Angeles Clippers looking for their third win in a row against the Clippers this season and their fifth consecutive win against them overall. The game started out well for the Suns who jumped out to an early first quarter lead, mainly behind the scoring and rebounding of Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye.

However, once the second quarter started and the bench unit came in things went downhill fast as the Suns only scored 14 points in the second quarter while the bench went scoreless for over six minutes. The starters came back in and eventually made some shots, but the damage had been done and the lead had been lost as the Clippers went into the half up 44-41.

The second half didn't go much better for the Suns as they fell behind by 10 points in the third quarter due to some hot shooting by Caron Butler and Randy Foye. Blake Griffin also had a couple of and-ones and the Suns just couldn't seem to find a rhythm.

The fourth quarter saw some improved play from the bench, namely with Robin Lopez grabbing some offensive rebounds and getting to the line. But it still wasn't enough as the Clippers were able to hold their lead; even after Suns' head coach Alvin Gentry unsuccessfully went to the zone hoping to stop the Clippers the way they did the last time they faced them.

Steve Nash had 15 assists but went scoreless tonight from the field missing all four of his shots and only scoring one point off a technical free throw ... this was likely due to the back issues he was dealing with since last night's game against the San Antonio Spurs. Grant Hill sat out this game with a sore right knee, and his defensive presence was also missed tonight as the Suns just couldn't seem to stop Caron Butler and Randy Foye from scoring in the first half. Marcin Gortat had a good game scoring 23 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, and Channing Frye also contributed nicely with 16 points and 7 rebounds.

For the Clippers it was the Blake Griffin show as he scored 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Chris Paul also had a great game scoring 15 points and dishing 15 assists as well. DeAndre Jordan hit an impressive 7-8 free throws and ended up with 13 points to go with his 6 rebounds, and Caron Butler contributed nicely with his 14 points as well. The Clippers just out-hustled, out-rebounded and out-scored the Suns tonight ... they deserved this win.

Full recap coming tomorrow morning. This one hurt, but the Suns are still firmly in the playoff race after getting some help when the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets also both lost tonight.

Hang in there Suns fans ... Continue on after the jump for the Game Notes.

Game Notes

First Quarter:

Suns without Grant Hill again because of right knee inflammation and also without Markieff Morris out with a cold.

Suns starting Shannon Brown in place of Hill again…let’s hope for another 32 points!

Nice lob break-up by Brown that led to transition dunk for Gortat

Griffin starts out hitting his first two shots…hope that isn’t a bad omen

Dudley hits his first shot and matches his scoring total from yesterday

Frye with a nice offensive rebound and dunk!

Gortat with a nice layup and-1

Frye with a block…playing big man basketball

Dudley hits his second shot…jumper looking smooth for Dudz.

Brown with a circus type layup high off the glass…30 more to go!

Gortat with a great adjustment on a left hand lay-up…Suns up early 15-8 halfway through the first quarter

Clippers now with 7 unanswered points to tie it up…Suns have to keep their foot on the gas.

Frye immediately answers with a 3 to take back the lead

Griffin grabs a rebound off Dudley’s missed three but it was still in the air above the rim when he did it…no goaltending call though.

Suns still holding onto the lead, just barely, now up 20-19

Frye with another 3…that’s his second from long range plus a dunk

Gortat wasn’t comfortable taking that 13 footer from the side…but he drained it

Telfair and Lopez in for Nash and Gortat now

Lopez immediately drives to the rim and finishes with a nice reverse lay-up

Suns lead 27-24 at the end of the 1st quarter. Suns shooting 44%, Clippers 50%. Suns with 12rbs, Clippers with 13rbs. Suns with 2 TO’s, Clippers with 5 TO’s. Gortat leading the Suns with 11 points, Blake Griffin leading the Clippers with 12 points.

Second Quarter:

The Full bench unit is in for the Suns to start the 2nd quarter…Telfair, Price, Redd, Warrick, and Lopez

Warrick gets to the line and hits both free throws

Three bad possessions after that, two of which lead to easy buckets for the Clippers, and then a foul on Deandre Jordan. Timeout…I wonder if Gentry will change the lineup

Gentry sticks with the same unit after the timeout. Deandre Jordan misses his 2nd free throw but the Clippers get the offensive rebound. The Clippers then get two more offensive rebounds and then get the ball again as it goes out of bounds…that’s the fourth chance at a basket. Gentry can’t be happy

Redd stops the bleeding by getting to the line. Glad to see him use his veteran smarts to get some points.

Still, bench just not in rhythm right now…Gentry has got to be close to making a change

Suns have not scored a field goal yet in the 2nd quarter…Clippers with a four point lead 35-31 midway through.

At this point, why not try Josh Childress?

Gentry putting the starters back in…whew

Frye continues the missing streak with a missed three…that’s now 11 missed shots in a row for the Suns

Gortat missed reverse lay-up…12 misses in a row now

Frye gets to the line and hits both free throws

Dudley gets fouled and argues his way into shooting two free throws although he clearly wasn’t in a shooting motion when it happened. Way to go JD! Dudley missed both free throws…ball doesn’t lie I guess

Finally a field goal! Dudley with a layup that is blocked by Deandre Jordan for a goaltend…

Shannon Brown gets to the line after being fouled behind the arc…Brown hits 1 of 3 but the Suns get the offensive rebound and then Brown hits a 3!

Gortat with an offensive rebound and a nice turnaround jumper…Now has 13 points

Gortat picked up his third personal foul and freturns to the bench

Brown runs down a fast breaking Deandre Jordan and fouls him to make him earn it…Good strategy for a player that shoots 49% Jordan makes both of them though and now has made 7-8 for the night so far

Clippers lead 43-41 at the end of the 1st half. Suns shooting 36%, Clippers 41%. Suns with 26rbs, Clippers with 30rbs. Suns with 5 TO’s, Clippers with 8 TO’s. Gortat leading the Suns with 13 points, Blake Griffin still leading the Clippers with 12 points.

Third Quarter:

The Suns scored only 14 points in the second quarter, let’s hope the Suns get out to a better start in the third.

Frye hits a jumper to start off the Suns

Caron Butler answers back with a three

Caron Buftler then makes a nice move to create his shot and hits a nice jumper for another 2.

Gentry calls timeout early…he must see something he doesn’t like out there…besides the obvious, that is

Brown with a nice turnaround jumper

Frye going to work on D now…Good help defense on a driving Butler and then plays good D on Griffin causing him to travel

Gortat gets to the line and hits both free throws…now has 19 so far. Suns and clippers now tied at 53-53 midway through the third

Nice off-balance jumper from Frye, he now has 14 points and 7 rebounds

Foye answers back with a three

Redd answers his answer back with a three of his own

Caron Butler really doing his part to help the Clippers…he’s become a factor now with 14 points…Foye is also heating up now with 9 and hasn’t missed a shot yet

Telfair and Lopez are in now for Nash and Gortat

Blake Griffin fouled hard by Lopez at the rim but still hits the shot and-1

Suns going cold again…now just 4-19 from beyond the arc

Nice strong move by Lopez for a basket at the rim

Clippers pulling ahead now…up by 10 near the end of the third

Clippers lead 74-64 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Suns shooting 39%, Clippers 46%. Suns with 34rbs, Clippers with 49rbs. Suns with 6 TO’s, Clippers with 12 TO’s. Gortat leading the Suns with 21 points, Blake Griffin leading the Clippers with 19 points.

Fourth Quarter:

Suns defense has really suffered these last two nights without Grant Hill…Even though the Clippers have been missing a fair amount of shots, most of them were still good looks.

Suns bench in to start the fourth quarter…The bench has to play well if the Suns are going to have a chance to come back and get a win

Frye missed a three but Lopez gets the offensive rebound and gets fouled…Robin hits both free throws

Frye goes out and Warrick comes in for him…let’s hope he plays better this time around

Chris Paul having a nice night as he knocks down another jumper…now has 13

Lopez grabs another offensive board and gets to the free throw line again…Nice hustle from Robin who now has 8 points off 4 free throws and two field goals

Nick Young makes his first shot…It’s a three and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Suns

Dudley misses yet another shot…really bad night of shooting for him after making his first two shots of the game

Nash coming back in…He has 14 assists so far but still hasn’t scored yet…probably not 100% with his back

Lopez with an and-1, Robin hustling hard and trying his best to help the team

Suns going to the zone defensively since it seemed to work so well last game…we’ll see if it works again

Blake Griffin adding to his highlight reel now with two back to back dunks

The Clippers appear to have this one in the bag with the Suns not showing any sign of being able to come back.

Clippers win 103-86. Suns shoot 38%, Clippers 50%. Suns with 49rbs, Clippers with 62rbs. Suns with 10 TO’s, Clippers with 15 TO’s. Gortat led the Suns with 23 points, Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 27 points.

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Ok, well that was an U-G-L-Y first half for the Suns, but fortunately the Clippers couldn't score either! Clippers lead 43-41 at the end of the first half, but the Suns are still very much in this game and just need a stronger 2nd half to get this much needed win!

Let's go!

Grant Hill is officially out tonight, but no word yet on how Steve Nash is feeling today. But hey, we beat these guys last time without either of our two star veterans...We can do this!

Here we go!

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Los Angeles Clippers 103, Phoenix Suns 86 Life doesn’t get any easier for the Phoenix Suns as they visit the Los Angeles Clippers one night after a tough loss to the Spurs at home. The Suns have...

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Game on!

Last night the Phoenix Suns lost a hard fought (at least offensively) game to the San Antonio Spurs at home. Tonight the 25-25 Suns will try to win their third game against the 28-21 L.A. Clippers on the road to go 3-0 against them so far, and more importantly, to get back to a winning record and one game closer to a playoff berth.

The L.A. Clippers have won their last four games at home. In fact, their last loss at the Staples Center came at the hands of the Suns on March 15th when Phoenix shocked nearly everyone by beating the Clippers without both Steve Nash and Grant Hill. If the Suns are looking to repeat that winning formula then tonight would be a great time since Grant Hill is questionable with a strained knee, and Steve Nash is apparently having back problems again after it tightened up on him in last night's loss to the Spurs.

How will the Suns respond after last night's game? Will Shannon Brown continue his hot streak tonight? Will Jared Dudley score more than two points? Answers to these questions and more after the jump...

Here is a look at the Clippers:

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Blake Griffin 49 36.2 8.4 15.7 53.2 0.0 0.2 20.0 4.1 7.4 54.5 3.2 7.6 10.8 3.0 2.3 0.9 0.7 3.3 20.8
Chris Paul 44 36.4 7.0 14.5 48.5 1.3 3.6 36.9 4.1 4.8 85.7 0.7 2.8 3.5 8.6 2.0 2.4 0.1 2.2 19.5
Nick Young 46 30.1 5.7 14.2 40.3 1.8 4.9 36.6 2.8 3.3 86.8 0.6 1.8 2.4 1.1 1.5 0.7 0.2 2.3 16.1
Chauncey Billups 20 30.3 4.2 11.4 36.4 2.4 6.3 38.4 4.3 4.8 89.5 0.2 2.3 2.5 4.0 1.9 0.5 0.2 2.0 15.0
Mo Williams 44 28.8 5.2 12.1 42.9 1.8 4.7 38.5 1.4 1.6 88.7 0.5 1.5 2.0 3.1 1.7 1.0 0.2 2.0 13.6
Caron Butler 46 31.1 4.6 11.7 39.3 1.4 4.2 34.0 1.6 2.0 79.6 0.9 3.1 4.0 1.4 1.2 0.9 0.2 2.1 12.2
Randy Foye 48 24.2 3.4 9.0 38.4 1.6 4.4 35.4 1.0 1.2 82.8 0.3 1.6 1.9 2.2 1.2 0.7 0.4 1.9 9.4
DeAndre Jordan 49 27.1 3.2 5.0 63.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.1 2.2 50.0 3.2 5.3 8.5 0.3 1.0 0.5 2.1 3.1 7.5
Kenyon Martin 25 21.2 2.4 5.5 44.2 0.0 0.3 14.3 0.4 1.0 38.5 0.8 3.0 3.8 0.4 0.9 0.8 0.8 2.6 5.3
Bobby Simmons 15 19.2 1.2 3.9 30.5 1.0 2.7 37.5 0.1 0.1 100.0 0.7 1.6 2.3 0.5 0.4 0.5 0.1 2.1 3.5
Trey Thompkins 18 5.9 1.1 2.9 38.5 0.1 0.6 20.0 0.3 0.4 71.4 0.2 1.1 1.3 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.5 2.6
Ryan Gomes 32 13.3 1.0 3.0 32.6 0.1 0.9 13.8 0.3 0.3 72.7 0.4 1.5 1.9 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.0 1.1 2.3
Reggie Evans 44 15.5 0.7 1.5 48.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 1.5 50.7 2.0 3.3 5.4 0.3 0.9 0.6 0.1 2.3 2.2
Eric Bledsoe 23 8.7 0.7 2.0 31.9 0.1 0.4 30.0 0.5 0.7 70.6 0.4 0.6 1.0 1.1 0.8 0.7 0.3 1.2 2.0
Travis Leslie 10 4.5 0.5 1.4 35.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.9 44.4 0.6 0.3 0.9 0.5 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 1.4

The Clippers now have five players averaging double-digits in scoring (minus Billups). That's one more than they had the last time the Suns faced the Clippers ... before they added Nick Young in a trade at the deadline. However, Mo Williams is out with a toe injury so that evens it up a bit. Still, the Clippers are a very talented team, at least offensively, and the Suns will certainly have their hands full against a team who has been playing very well at home lately.

Key Match-ups:

Steve Nash vs. Chris Paul - This will be a battle between two of the best point guards in the game, both of whom have a tremendous b-ball I.Q. and ability to make other players around them better. However, only one of these two point guards is a former two-time MVP and still leading the league in assists at the ripe young age of 38. But still, in their first meeting (the only in which Nash played), Paul got the upper hand with 16 points and 5 assists to Nash's 6 points and 6 assists. However, that was likely more of an aberration than evidence of superior skills. Nash is averaging 13 points and 11 assists per game to Paul's 19.5 points and 8.6 assists ... fairly difficult to put one ahead of the other. This match-up could go either way tonight; let's just hope Nash's back is feeling better today (Advantage - Push)

Marcin Gortat vs. DeAndre Jordan - The last time these two teams met, Gortat had one of his worst games of the season scoring only 8 points on 3-10 shooting and grabbing only 6 rebounds ... but that was also without Steve Nash. DeAndre Jordan on the other hand scored 11 points and grabbed 9 boards, which is slightly higher than his average of 7.5 points and 8.5 rebounds. When Gortat is playing well he's just a better player than DeAndre. And as long as Nash plays tonight I think Marcin has the clear-cut edge in this match-up. (Advantage - Suns)

Channing Frye vs. Blake Griffin - This match-up may seem like a no-brainer to most, and if I hadn't already seen the first two meetings between these two teams I would probably agree. In their first meeting this season, Frye limited Blake defensively and held him to only 17 points on 6-19 shooting and 7 rebounds. Frye on the other hand only scored 6 points but managed to grab 14 rebounds. Griffin fared better in the second meeting scoring 25 points on 12-18 shooting and grabbing 8 rebounds. Frye scored 12 points and grabbed just 6 boards. If Frye can defend Blake as well as he did in the first meeting and also grab over 10 rebounds in this game then I really like the Suns chances. But still, Blake is clearly the better player and one of the biggest threats offensively that the Suns will have to account for and he will likely be the key to the game. (Advantage - Clippers)

Suns' Wings vs. Clippers' Wings - Rather than breaking down each player, I figured I would lump them all together as one for each team since both the Suns and the Clippers have a lot of talent at this position. For the Suns this includes Grant Hill, Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown. For the Clippers this includes Nick Young, Caron Butler and Randy Foye. This is a hard one to call based on the uncertainty of Grant Hill's status, but if I go with the assumption that Grant Hill will play tonight and be given the task of shutting down their most dangerous wing (Nick Young), then I love this match-up for the Suns. If not, well it suddenly gets much more complicated. But still, with Dudley hitting a hot streak with the exception of last night, and now more Shannon Brown added into the mix I would still give the Suns the edge here. (Advantage - Suns)


The Suns have already shown they can beat the Clippers, and have done so in the last four consecutive meetings. After last night's loss the Suns need to re-establish themselves in the playoff hunt with a win in L.A. tonight, and I believe Alvin Gentry and Elston Turner will have them mentally and emotionally prepared to do just that. Shannon Brown has really come on strong lately and his previous scoring high for the season before last night's 32 points was his 21 points in the last game against the Clippers. I think Gentry will play him early and often even if Grant Hill returns to the starting line-up. Jared Dudley has also been huge for the Suns lately, and despite his disappearance against the Spurs he has been the Suns leading scorer in the month of March, so I expect another big game from him tonight.

The bottom line is that the Clippers are a very beatable team for the Suns, and they have played them very well in their first two meetings. I think the players on this Suns team really believe in themselves and each other, and their chemistry on and off the floor has really helped them in turning this season around. Tonight will be a very important game for the Suns which will help determine whether or not they make the playoffs. With all that is riding on this game I expect the Suns to come out playing inspired and with purpose, and I believe the Suns should be able to finish this series against the Clippers with another win.

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