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The Phoenix Suns wrapped up their 4-game road trip in Los Angeles on Thursday night and left with a much-needed win in the pocket, defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 111-95. It really wasn’t that close as Phoenix improved to 17-12.

Phoenix was led by Mikal Bridges, who dropped 27 points. Chris Paul returned to Los Angeles and had 15 points, 13 assists and 7 boards. Josh Okogie looked stellar on both ends of the floor, earning a double-double with his effort. Jock Landale also had a double-double off the bench, scoring 15 and grabbing 10 boards. And bending one edge.

The Clippers were led by Terrence Mann’s 22 points (he also had 11 rebounds) and Moses Brown’s 12 rebounds.

Devin Booker is back, and while his shooting struggles continued (he shot 6-of-22 overall, 1-of-9 from deep, 14 points), it was good to see #1 on the court and not in a trucker cap. Because there were a lot of trucker hats out there tonight…


Game Flow

Before tipoff, the Suns announced that Devin Booker would suit up, while Deandre Ayton would not because of an ankle injury. Bismack Biyombo would start in his place.

The Clippers would be without multiple players, including Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Ivica Zubac and Reggie Jackson. And Luke Kennard. And Norman Powell.

Good lord.

First half

Since December 5th, the Suns have struggled in the first half, shooting 36.7% from the field and 25% from deep, both last in the NBA. If you start so slow for so long, you will lose games.

The script was flipped on Thursday night as the Suns shot 54.2% from the field and 37.5% from beyond the arc against a depleted and young Los Angeles team. The Clippers have looked like the Suns lately, shooting 29.5% from the field in the first half.

Devin Booker has looked much better since coming off a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two games. Since December 5th, he is shooting 24.1% from the field and 28.6% from three in the first half. He scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting in the first half. He even had a reverse slam dunk, something you don’t often see in his repertoire.

The second quarter was fueled by 11 points from Josh Okogie and Damian Lee, who both put the ball on the floor and attacked the rollers rather than settling for three-pointers.

The second team unit had prepared for the defensive moves and did a good job of using their athleticism to force the Clippers into tough shots. Sure, it was against the likes of Moussa Diabate and Jason Preston, but it was a welcome sight for tired eyes.

Mikal Bridges contributed heavily, leading all Suns with 14 points on an efficient 6-for-9 shooting, adding 3 boards, a steal and a block. The Suns went into halftime with a sizable lead, 64-37 at the end of the second.

Second half

The second half begins much like the first half ended. The Suns are hitting and the underdog Clippers are not. It was a familiar sight, seeing as the Suns had a lot of unreal possessions last week.

Josh Okogie has been one of the only bright spots for the Suns over the past week+. His defensive engine, combined with his newfound ability to score (remember, he averaged a career-high 6.4 points when Phoenix brought him in), has equated to minutes for the 5th-year player.

Okogie had a double-double on Thursday, scoring 11 points and pulling down 11 boards. His hustle on the defensive side of the ball is being rewarded, and he’s showing some impressive highlights along the way.

The Clippers went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter to cut the lead to 17 points after a 31-point lead. The Suns liked the team we saw this December as they iced the field. They finished 33.3% shooting in the third period and 3 of 12 from deep.

Devin Booker was 0 of 7 in the third quarter. However, the Suns jumped out to a 19-point lead in Q4, leading 89-70 after three.

We saw a different Suns offense tonight as mentioned above as they made it a point to pressure the Clippers interior. With 7:53 left in the game, Phoenix got into the bonus by 19.

This game is almost over. The Suns held off the Clippers, who won easily and snapped their 5-game losing streak.

This was a much needed win for Phoenix. Not only to maintain their position in the Western Conference, but to remind us all that things are going to be okay. It’s a long regular season and there will be other valleys and other peaks. You have to take it easy.


Next

Ready to see the New Orleans Pelicans again? I’m sure you are. Phoenix returns home on Saturday to play the Suns for the last time during the regular season. The Pelicans lost tonight at home to the Utah Jazz. Can the Suns do better?

I’ll see you then, Bright Side.



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