Clippers stay unbeaten, turn away Suns, 116-98

first_imgLOS ANGELES >> It was in a relative sense, easy for the Clippers last Thursday night in Portland. It was opening night, a game against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs a year ago. It was something they waited all summer for. Emotion was a built-in part of the night.Sunday, with no disrespect intended to Utah, wasn’t that tough, either. It was the first game of the year at Staples Center, with Blake Griffin and his teammates coming to center court to implore the crowd to come along with them as they try and make history this season.Energy was in great supply. Monday night, though, that was a different story.The Suns were winless and without their best player, Devin Booker. Both teams played the day before. And, for the Clippers, the game was sandwiched between the home opener and Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City’s first trip to town.But, like good teams do on nights that are tough, the Clippers created enough emotion and energy to keep winning, beating the Suns 116-98.“You’ve got to be good everyday,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “You can’t pick and choose.”The bench didn’t dominate like it had. The Clippers didn’t control the glass like they have. And, they weren’t as crisp on offense, throwing the ball all over the court. But, that didn’t deter them from leaving the night with what they came for – a win.The Clippers out-crafted Phoenix, baiting one of the NBA’s youngest teams into sending them to the line 38 times. Their ball movement, which hadn’t been on display much early in the season, started to slice the Suns’ defense.Chris Paul led the Clippers with 24 points and eight assists, while the Clipper frontcourt, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, both finished with double-doubles.Griffin continued to play well, scoring 21 points while getting to the line 14 times. He also added 11 rebounds and five assists.“Blake’s a playmaker,” Rivers said. Jordan, who played through an injured thumb, broke out of his “shooting” slump, making 8-of-10 from the field on his way to a 19-11 statistical line.“This was his best game,” Rivers said.Jamal Crawford (14 points) and J.J. Redick (13 points) also finished in double figures.“We started out slow,” Rivers said. “We missed open shot after open shot. …They just kept trusting.”But with the shots not falling early, the Clippers still found a way to make the game theirs. They held Phoenix to just 12 points in the second quarter and then, in the second half, exploded for 68 points, pushing the Suns back after they briefly took the lead.Whether it was an emotional lull, fighting through a rough offensive stretch or, in the second half, letting four bad minutes get the opponent back in the game, the Clippers faced all the challenges head on Monday night.“We’re still a team in growth,” Rivers said.And, while they’re growing, they kept on winning.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img