In a direct duel in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns secured their postseason participation for the first time in 11 years, after beating the LA Clippers 109-101 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Suns are in second place in the conference, while the Angelenos are third, so the winner of the game held on Wednesday night would secure his place in the Playoffs and Phoenix did.
“Our communication sucked,” Paul George lamented after the Clippers’ loss. “Our game was flat, we tried to raise the intensity towards the end, but we had already allowed a lot of variables to occur up to that point. We must do a better job with our defensive communication and show the intensity that we had in other games.
The Clippers closed with a victory a three-game road trip in which they did not have their star Kawhi Leonard (foot), who accompanied the team during its trip.
With eight regular season games still to be played, those led by Tyronn Lue have not been able to be with a full team.
“We allow a lot of unbranded layups and triples for them (Suns) due to our poor communication. Things that we work on on a day-to-day basis, we couldn’t capitalize on defensively. We have to keep working on it and talking about our coverage, because we easily gave them 20 or 22 points for lack of communication, “said Lue.
The Clippers also don’t have Serge Ibaka and Patrick Beverly. The latter surprised the group by joining the team on Tuesday night.
Against the Suns, the Angelenos fought until the end. In the fourth quarter they increased their energy and physical play to cut the score to one point, but the Suns, led by Chris Paul, dodged the pressure of the visitors and sealed the victory.
Six Phoenix players finished in double digits: Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Torrey Craig, Cameron Payne and Frank Kaminsky, in addition to 11 rebounds from DeAndre Ayton.
“Ayton did a good job on the board. We gave up 15 offensive rebounds and that was one of our biggest problems. We didn’t show physical strength, (Suns) played well. We decided to switch to a small lineup because it opened things up for us on offense, but on defense, we couldn’t stop them. We are not left with the rebound, ”explained Lue.
Paul, a former Clippers player, recorded a double-double with 28 points and 10 assists and went from having only three points in the first half and hitting one of three shots to adding 25 points in the second after making nine of 12 shots from the field. .
“Chris controls the whole game, plays at his own pace, involves his teammates, knows when to take the load, that’s what makes a great point guard,” Lue said. “He did that, he controlled the game during the first three quarters and in the last quarter, he managed to maintain inertia and impact the game in the final stretch.”
The Clippers’ starting quintet didn’t do a bad job in terms of numbers, finishing all in double digits: Terance Man (12), Marcus Morris (16), Ivica Zubac (14), Paul George (25) and Reggie Jackson (10). George also finished with a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds.
The bank ended up making a difference. The Suns, led by Cameron Payne and Frank Kaminsky, finished with 32 points against 24 points for the Angelenos reserves. Interestingly, both starting quintets scored the same number of points (77).
The Clippers receive the visit of the Denver Nuggets on Saturday in another direct duel in the standings. If they lose, the Clippers would drop to fourth place in the West, bringing them closer to the possibility of facing the Los Angeles Lakers, who currently have the fifth seed, in the first postseason round.