The team was not built to make a run at the playoffs, but the Phoenix Suns are doing it anyway. However, injuries are starting to take a toll.

The Phoenix Suns weren't supposed to be here, but they are 10 games over .500 with 22 games to play and right in the thick of a playoff race.

It took a barrage of outside shooting by Matt Barnes for the Los Angeles Clippers to defeat an injury-riddled Suns team on Thursday, but a win is a win. To hear the Clippers post game, you can see the respect they have for the upstart Suns.

"I thought in the first half they were playing in a playoff game and we were not," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after the game. "I thought in the second half we joined and it became a really good game."

"It was intense," power forward Blake Griffin said. "They just outplayed us and out hustled us the whole first half. Being up 10, down 10, keeping a good demeanor about you; I thought the whole team to fight through adversity was huge. I think that’s going to serve us well late in games, especially in the playoffs."

A coach that's won an NBA Finals. A power forward that's tasted the playoffs the last two years. Both talking about Tuesday's tilt as if it were a good test for playoff basketball.

But who exactly were they playing?

The Clippers were playing a Phoenix Suns team missing two starters to injury, Eric Bledsoe (knee surgery rehab) and Miles Plumlee (knee strain), while a third rotation player (Leandro Barbosa) missed the second half due to a broken wrist. They were playing a Suns team who's top two centers have barely played any minutes recently. Rookie C Alex Len, 20 years old, has gotten DNPs on a regular basis. And backup C Shavlik Randolph was just working out at home in Miami last week, having not played in the NBA since last spring.

The result was a Suns team just not loaded enough to win a playoff-intensity game.

Generally, I'll take a loss that was born on the back of Matt Barnes having to hit 12 of 13 shots just to get the Clippers a lead.

But it's the piling up of injuries that really worries me about the Suns' ability to stay in the playoff hunt with 14 of their last 22 games on the road, including 4 of their last 5. When the playoffs look to be decided by 1 or 2 games when it's all said and done, the Suns are playing with a short deck.

Hopefully, Miles Plumlee's knee strain is short term. He wasn't on the injured list until an hour before tipoff on Tuesday night. After the game, coach Hornacek said he's been experiencing soreness and swelling in the knee for a few games now. He hopes a couple of days of rest will be enough to get Plumlee healthy again.

Hopefully, Eric Bledsoe's rehab will take that next step onto the active roster soon. Despite some twitter ravings on Tuesday, Bledsoe has NOT had any pain in this surgically repaired knee while upping his rehab to 5-on-5 scrimmaging on Saturday and Monday so far. Bledsoe's body is sore just from playing hard in practice, and that's a good thing.

Leandro Barbosa won't be back any time soon, having broken his wrist on a first-half play and electing to heal it without surgery. There is no timetable for his return, but the regular season only has 5 weeks left. It's possible Barbosa could return for the playoffs, if there are any to play, but that's completely unknown at this time.

And all this doesn't touch on Goran Dragic wearing down. He mentioned to Slovenian reporters recently that his ankle is going to bother him the rest of the season, and that he's exhausted.

Last night, he told me that he is just really tired, but was more frustrated with missing a couple of easy midrange shots in the second half that might have tipped the scales back in the Suns favor. He's a competitor. With a badly turned ankle, he scored 40. Last night, despite Chris Paul all over him, he put up 14 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds while holding Paul to 14 points on the other end.

Still, you've got to hope that Dragic can sustain this level of play the rest of the season. 22 games isn't much, but when you're on fumes it's an eternity.

Fully healthy, the Suns went 16-8 this season before the turn of the year.

Since Bledsoe went down, the Suns are 16-14. Treading water, but gaining little ground.

Combine Bledsoe's loss with another injury, the Suns can't close out games. They went 0-3 over the past week+ with missing a second starter. Dragic missed the 4th against Minny, and then the whole Utah game. Now Plumlee missed the Clippers game. The Suns couldn't do the job without them.

"That’s a part of the game, injuries," a tired Dragic said after the Clippers loss. "I wish them all a quick recovery, you know we need everyone here.

"We have 22 games left so we have to play hard and try to make a lot of wins and try to push for the playoff seed. In the end, if you don’t make the playoffs nobody is going to talk about us. We just have to keep our heads up and try to be together and the wins are going to come."

Coming up, the Suns have 3 extremely difficult games just in the next week: home against OKC, and then on the road against Golden State and the Clippers.

“That’s it man, there’s no hiding from it," P.J. Tucker (18 points, 10 rebounds) said. "We have to step up right now. Good teams are winning big games right now and if we want to be one of those teams we have to win games. We have to step up and win these games.

"If we want to take the attention of being a playoff team, being in contention to be in the playoffs, then we need to step up and win these games. There’s no hiding or running away from that we have to win some games.”

If the Suns can't win 2 out of 3, the will likely drop into the lottery and will spend the rest of the season trying to dig their way back while playing out the string mainly on the road.

PHOENIX — An 11-point halftime lead is never enough. Ramp up the “it’s a game of runs” cliche, which can be applied to basketball, table tennis, cornhole or what have you. The...

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The 80's and Volkswagen are both going to appreciate the intro to this weeks podcast, which only gets better as you listen to it thanks to our two special guests... Give it a listen, will ya?

The Pacific Division is the best division in the NBA at one thing in particular. Can you guess? Well, here is a hint: Look at the picture above.

This season the play of Goran Dragic and Stephen Curry has been on a level that insights "MVP Consideration Conversations" and that is worth noting. Last year Dragic got his starting opportunity and the team was unsuccessful while Curry and his Warriors were basically doing what the Suns are doing this year. Winning.

In Part One Nate Parham of Golden State of Mind joins the conversation to talk about that and more.

Listen Here: Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 53 Part One ft. Nate Parham

Also, this past weekend the 2014 MIT Sloan Analytics Conference went down and friend of the podcast, ESPN Insider Amin Elhassan, was in attendance. He talks about his favorite moments, what he learned, and what analytics are still lacking at this stage in their development.

Listen Here: Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 53 Part Two (Amin Elhassan)

PHOENIX – This time, the Suns’ defensive issues weren’t enough to show up in the final score. That didn’t mean they weren’t awfully concerning. Phoenix’s woes showed...

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The Phoenix Suns, down two starters, fought a tough game but came up short to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Los Angeles Clippers started the game on a 16-7 tear, but then the Phoenix Suns roared back to an 11-point halftime lead.

The Clippers dominated the third quarter and early 4th to take a 15-point lead (a 26-point swing), but then the Suns fought back to a 4-point deficit.

Ultimately, the Suns couldn't make enough shots to finish the comeback.

The Clippers won 104-96.

The Los Angeles Clippers came back to life on the unconscious shooting of Matt Barnes - made 12 of his first 13 jumpers - and Darren Collison.

After a really slow start to the game, including only 7 points in the first 6 minutes, the Suns rolled out to a 55-44 halftime lead thanks to solid defense and rebounding - something that was missing in the past week and a half.

The Clippers appeared to be in a funk the entire half, allowing themselves to settle for midrange jumpers as the Suns packed the paint and denied back door cuts to the rim. The Suns first run occurred when the Clippers tried to play new acquisitions Danny Granger and Glen Davis together in the second unit, along with former Suns Jared Dudley and Hedo Turkoglu. But the Suns biggest run occurred against the Clippers starters to pull to a 55-44 halftime lead.

But then Matt Barnes happened. As the Clippers tried to stay in a funk, Barnes personally pulled them out of it. He scored on 6 straight jumpers (three of them 3-ptrs) for 16 points as the Clippers went on to make 13 of their last 16 shots to take an 8-point lead into the 4th.

The Suns were already without starters Eric Bledsoe and Miles Plumlee (knee strain). Then Leandro Barbosa went down with a broken left wrist.

But the Suns were beaten on jumpers. Beaten over the head, in that third quarter. By former Sun Matt Barnes, no less. The Clippers made 15-20 shots in the third, then started the 4th with 4 of 5 makes while the Suns scored only 2 points - to give the Clips a 15-point lead before the Suns could wake up. The Suns went 11-30 in the same time span, unable to get out of their own way most of the time.

The Clippers can thank Darren Collison (18 points) and Matt Barnes (28 points) for keeping them alive long enough to settle into taking a lead.

The Suns wouldn't go away though. They roared back to within 90-86 and then 97-94, but couldn't pull out the game. The Suns just couldn't make enough shots.

The final minute will make DeAndre Jordan's defensive highlight reel, with blocks, rebounds and deterrants galore.

Credit this game to Matt Barnes, who scored 16 points in the first few minutes of the third to bring Clippers back, and Darren Collison (18 points) when the Clippers needed any kind of boost to stay alive in the first 2.5 quarters. Without them, it's a big Suns lead.

Game log

The Suns came out wound up tight, unable to make a shot. But at least they played some D, inducing the Clippers into a lot of midrange shots. Alex Len started the game in place of Miles Plumlee (knee strain), and quickly grabbed two rebounds and scored on a putback. But then he missed three shots and picked up a foul before taking a seat. The Suns replacements at center weren't much better, with Channing Frye and Markieff Morris picking up 2 fouls apiece before making as many shots.

After allowing the Clips to take a 15-6 lead despite shooting under 40%, the Suns went on a run and eventually took a 25-24 lead after one.

The Suns played the second quarter hard, and continued to lead. They pulled out to an 11-point halftime lead on the back of strong defense and opportunistic scoring. Suns lead 55-44 at half.

I don't think the Clippers know what hit them. They seem in a funk. At halftime, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin combined for just 14 points (5-16 from field), 8 assists and 6 rebounds. The Suns induced them to take most of those shots from midrange, which is a 39% shot in the NBA.

Matt Barnes single-handedly dragged the Clippers back into the game by making his first 6 second-half shots - three of them three-pointers - as the Suns apparently decided that they would be okay with Barnes deciding the outcome of this game. Barnes started 11-12 from the field. All on long jumpers.

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