Sunday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors was painful for the Phoenix Suns because they held a second half advantage before watching the game and the win slip through their fingertips.
At the Staples Center Monday night, the Suns never had that luxury of owning a sizable advantage. In fact outside of a brief 6-4 deficit, the Los Angeles Clippers led wire-to-wire en route to their second victory over Phoenix in the span of six days.
The game featured its fair share of chippy play and a late rally by the Suns, but ultimately the home side proved to be too much in a 112-105 triumph.
Here’s a look at the seven-point loss by the numbers:
P.J. Tucker recorded Phoenix’s lone double-double on the night with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but the third-year forward’s evening will be remembered for a far different distinction. With 5:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, Tucker and Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin got tangled up in the paint and fell to the floor. With Griffin seemingly pressed against him, Tucker appeared to take a swipe with at the former Oklahoma standout with his right arm. Tucker was assessed a personal foul and an automatic ejection — the first of his NBA career.
For only the second time this season, the Suns dropped both ends of a road back-to-back. The first occurrence came back on Jan. 10 and 11 against the Memphis Grizzlies and Detroit Pistons.
Suns guard Goran Dragic suffered from a rare bout of foul trouble Monday. Dragic was called for three personal fouls in his first seven minutes of action. The Slovenian did manage to get going in the second half, though, scoring 20 of his team-high 23 points after halftime.
The Clippers’ 34-point first quarter marked the fifth consecutive game the Suns have allowed an opponent to record at least one 30-point frame.
And along those same lines, Phoenix allowed Los Angeles to shoot 55.1 percent for the game. It’s the seventh consecutive contest an opponent has eclipsed the 50 percent mark.
Miles Plumlee returned to the Suns’ starting lineup for the first time since March 2. The second-year center finished with 12 points and nine rebounds — marking the first time in 10 games he’s reached double figures in scoring.
Markieff Morris was whistled for his team-leading 11th technical foul in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss. Morris is now tied with Griffin and DeMarcus Cousins for third-most in the league. Last season, the Suns forward was called for just five.
In addition to his late-game tussle with Tucker, Griffin scored a game-high 37 points before fouling out in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Of those 37 points, 22 came in the first 12 minutes of play. Griffin’s 14-of-16 shooting performance was also the most efficient in the NBA by a player with at least 16 shots since 2010.
In the 12 games since the All-Star break, guard Gerald Green has connected on 36 three-point attempts, placing him in the top 5 during that span. Green finished with 16 points in Los Angeles, including 3-of-7 from downtown.
3/12 – 3/30:
Over the next 19 days, the Suns play 11 games. Of those 11 games, not a single opponent has a better record than Phoenix currently holds.