Game Notes: Suns at Clippers
Stoudemire puts in work. Three quarters of work.
Where do we begin?
Let’s skip to the end.
Suns 127, Clippers 101.
One might not have ever known that Wednesday night’s game was actually close if they weren’t in attendance at Staples Center. But it was close, for about a half. In fact, the Clippers had a one-point advantage at intermission. Things were competitive.
All of that, however, changed. In a hurry, mind you. Amar’e Stoudemire & Co put it on Baron Davis and his boys after the break. In less than three quarters of play, Stoudemire finished with 30 points, on 12-16 shooting from the field, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks.
The rest, as they say, is history.
*** The sole purpose of my excursion downtown was to hopefully catch up with Blake Griffin and see how the whole recovery process was going for the rookie. Unfortunately, our paths never crossed. Word is, the Clippers aren’t too keen on having members of the media interview him about the injury. Fear not SLAMonline followers, we’ll have a Q&A with Griffin soon enough. Believe that.
*** Believe it or not, there’s a bit of a buzz in the Clipper locker room. A swagger, if you will. They have, after all, won four consecutive games on their home court. Extending the streak won’t be easy against the Suns, winners of eight straight who would like nothing more than to sweep the season series.
*** Since joining the Clippers, Drew Gooden has played well, fitting right in with his new teammates in the Los Angeles. He’s averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. Wonder if our fantasy hoops guru, Charles Peach, thinks Gooden is worth adding for the stretch run. Those types of numbers couldn’t hurt, especially if you need help in the frontcourt.
*** Steve Nash is one of those dudes who looks like he’s always having a good time. Nash is relaxed as can be during warm-ups, seemingly without a care in the world, sharing a few laughs with Davis. The mood won’t be jovial for much longer, not with the opening tip mere minutes away.
*** Chris Kaman is involved early on. He makes a pair of free-throws, converts a layup and scores on a hook to give the Clippers a 12-7 lead at 7:24.
*** Eric Gordon gets loose in the lane, elevates and finishes with some serious authority with 6:50 left. It would’ve been nice to see those kind of hops in the Slam Dunk contest during All-Star Weekend. Guess he’s an in-game dunker.
*** Stoudemire scores 13 points over the course of the first 12 minutes, including two from the stripe to cut the deficit to 21-20 at 2:50.
*** Gordon steps outside and buries back-to-back three-pointers. The Clippers hold onto a three-point lead. There’s 1:10 remaining.
*** Nash has been quiet thus far, at least in the scoring column. He has one basket, a 17-footer at 9:37, but his seven assists make up for the lack of production on the offensive end. Phoenix is up, 30-26, at the end of one.
*** Is it the mid-nineties because Grant Hill is ballin. He knocks down a 5-footer, an 18-footer, a layup and two free-throws. The Suns maintain their lead, three points, at 7:37.
*** A pair of Channing Frye shots from way downtown extends the advantage to 51-42 with 5:56 left. The Clippers better get a hand in that guy’s face. Frye can get hot real quick.
*** Gordon and Rasual Butler answer from long distance to tie the score, 52-52, at 3:34.
*** Davis dishes out two assists to Kaman underneath down the stretch. The Clippers lead by a point at halftime, and perhaps more importantly, they have plenty of momentum.
*** Hill is at it again. First, he makes two free-throws. Then, Hill grabs a board and takes the ball coast-to-coast for layup. The Suns regain the advantage, 65-61, at the 10:03 mark.
*** Hill is killing the Clippers. He backs down Davis, and once the defense comes over to help, Hill spots Stoudemire cutting to the basket. Kaman considers challenging Stoudemire, but ultimately, decides against it. Good idea. Stoudemire skies through the lane and finishes with a thunderous dunk. Phoenix is up comfortably now, by nine points, with 7:31 left.
*** Look out below. Here comes Stoudemire. Down the middle of the paint. Again. Gooden scrambles to get out of the way, just in time, before Stoudemire adds another highlight reel dunk to his collection. The Suns still lead, 74-65, at 6:24. The Clippers need a spark, in the worst way.
*** Gordon attempts to restore some order. A head-and-shoulder fake freezes Nash and he hits an 18-footer. Steve Blake buries a three-pointers as the Clippers rally. Remarkably enough, they trail by four points with 4:37 remaining.
*** This isn’t fair. The Clippers have no answer for Stoudemire. None whatsoever. Nash throws up an alley-oop to Stoudemire to give the Suns their biggest lead up to this point, 85-73, at 2:49. This one is getting ugly people, ugly fast.
*** Just when you think things can’t get much worse, they do. Jason Richardson is heading for a for a dunk when Gordon wraps him up and is called for a clear-path foul. J-Rich makes both free-throws. Second later, in the open court, he uses Gordon and goes up for a reverse dunk and the Suns extend the advantage to 20 points at the end of three.
*** Hill and Frye are joined by Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley and Louis Admunson. One has to wonder if we’ll end up seeing the Suns starters again in this game.
*** A left-handed dunk by Kaman gives the Clippers a glimmer of hope. They trail, 100-79. Plenty of time left, 10:18, but Los Angeles needs to make some stops.
*** Frye for three, it’s good. Frye for another three, it’s good. He buries two more from beyond the arc and adds a 10-footer. The lead is 29 with 5:48 on the clock. Frye finishes with 23 points, including seven three-pointers. Really, seven three-pointers? You’ve got to be kidding. Nice perimeter defense.
*** There’s a Griffin sighting. Not Blake though. His brother, Taylor, makes an appearance in the game for the Suns and throws down a reverse two-handed dunk. It’s official, this one is over. Phoenix wins, 127-101.
*** Hill finished with 18 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds. Rumor is, Clippers coach, Kim Hughes, was overheard outside the locker room saying this about Hill: “He’s 57 years old and beating us down the floor.” Sure enough, the statement is true. Hughes gave the response to Dain Blanton of Fox Sports West at halftime. Ouch. Hope that doesn’t get back to Hill. Talk about some bulletin board material.
*** All things considered, Kaman played well and ended up with 24 points, on 11-16 shooting from the field, to go along with 9 rebounds. “We came in feeling confident. It was a good first half and we remained close,” he said. “After halftime, it all went downhill. Tonight was just not our night.” Hey Caveman, you can say that again.
*** Can’t believe Nash finished with just one bucket. He did have 13 assists though and the total would have been much more had the game been relatively close. All told, Nash played 27 minutes. “It was great for me to rest in the fourth quarter. I’ve been struggling a little bit with some injuries, so the more rest I can get is obviously better for me.”