PHOENIX SUNS

Suns Strokes: Suns allow 40-point first quarter, fall to Clippers at home

Feb 23, 2018, 10:51 PM
Los Angeles Clippers guard Tyrone Wallace, right, drives to the basket past the defense of Phoenix ...

Los Angeles Clippers guard Tyrone Wallace, right, drives to the basket past the defense of Phoenix Suns' Shaquille Harrison (10) and Josh Jackson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

PHOENIX — Someone forgot to tell the Phoenix Suns the All-Star break ended.

They stumbled out of the blocks in this 23-game sprint to the finish line, losing 128-117 to the Los Angeles Clippers in front of an announced crowd of 17,126 at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Friday.

And really, if we’re being honest, it wasn’t that close of a contest.

The Clippers, who played and lost the night before at Golden State, scored the game’s first 19 points and never looked back. They led 40-18 at the end of the first quarter and 79-50 at halftime on the way to their sixth win in eight games and seventh in row against the Suns, sweeping the season series for the second straight season.

The 40 first-quarter points and 79 first-half points were both season-highs.

And this was without Avery Bradley (sports hernia) and Danilo Gallinari (right hand contusion).

Lou Williams paced the Clippers with 35 points, while Tobias Harris (30 points, 12 rebounds) and DeAndre Jordan (11 and 13) each had double-doubles.

The Clippers (31-27) shot 51.7 percent from the field and made 14-of-32 3-point attempts.

The Suns showed some fight in the second half — they outscored the Clippers 67-49 — but the damage had already been done.

Devin Booker and T.J. Warren both scored 27 points.

Alex Len, getting the start in place of the injured Tyson Chandler, had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The Suns (18-42) have now lost eight straight, extending their season-long streak, and 13 of 14 overall.

THE GOOD

Following a scoreless first quarter, Warren had 11 points in the second. He shot 5-of-9 from the field, including one 3-pointer. Yes, Warren made a 3, just his 17th of the season. Warren’s 11 points were a team-high, as were his five rebounds in the period.

Following a scoreless first half, Len had eight points in the third quarter, six during a 12-2 run to pull the Suns to within 15, 87-72, at the 3:20 mark of the period. Len’s 14 points and eight rebounds in the second half helped carry him to his team-leading eighth double-double of the season and first since Jan. 14.

For the first time in six games, Daniels reached double figures in scoring. And he did it in the first half. A six-point first quarter preceded a six-point second quarter. Daniels finished with 17 points, making 5-of-10 3s. It’s his seventh game this season with at least five 3s off the bench.

Signed two days ago to a 10-day contract, Shaquille Harrison made his NBA debut when he checked into the game at the 4:42 mark of the first quarter. He played 14 minutes. Harrison failed to score, or even attempt a shot, but he had one rebound, four assists and one steal.

THE BAD

It took the Suns nearly five minutes before they dented the scoreboard. Josh Jackson’s layup at the 7:09 mark ended the scoring drought. The Suns missed their first eight shot attempts including four tries from 3-point range. They also turned the ball over three times. Meanwhile, the Clippers raced out to leads of 19-0 and 31-5; the latter after a Harris fastbreak layup at the 4:04 mark. Harris (16 points) and Wallace (11) combined for 27 of the Clippers’ 40 first-quarter points.

It was Williams’ turn in the second quarter. He scored 23 points, including the Clippers’ final eight points of the half. He shot 9-of-12 from the field with three 3s plus four free throws. His final basket, beating the 24-second shot clock with 3.3 seconds left, made it 79-50. And as it turned out, that would be the halftime score. The Clippers’ 79 points was a first-half season-high as they made good on 27-of-43 (62.8) field goal attempts, including 10-of-16 from 3-point range.

Any chance, as remote as it may have been, at a Suns comeback ended with Harris’ 3-pointer at the 2:02 mark of the third quarter. It was his third of the period and second during a 12-2 run that stretched the Clippers’ lead to 23, 95-72. Harris had nine points and four rebounds in 11 minutes; both marks were team-highs. Overall, through three quarters, he had 28 points and 10 rebounds, recording his second double-double of the season and first as a member of the Clippers.

Neither second-year forwards Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss had good games. Combined, they shot 1-of-11 from the field, with Chriss missing all five of his field goal attempts, for three points in 43 minutes. They did have 10 rebounds, Bender contributed seven. Chriss was also whistled for a technical foul for arguing a non-call at the 10:06 mark of the fourth quarter. He was immediately replaced by Booker. It was Chriss’ sixth technical foul of the season, fourth-most on the team.

STAT OF THE GAME

18-of-31: The Suns missed 13 free throws, seven by Len alone who went 0-of-7

HE SAID IT

“Inexcusable,” interim head coach Jay Triano said, referring to the start of the game. “We knew that they’re an iso team and they were going to put it down and drive it right at us and they did and we couldn’t keep anyone in front of us. At halftime, I asked them why for two days of practice we want to fight each other downstairs, but when we play against somebody else we ‘ole’ and let them go right past us to the rim. And then in the second half, that’s what we did. You build a 19-0 hole and miss 13 free throws and lose by 11, you go back to the start of the game. Inexcusable.”

NOTED

Once the Suns got on the scoreboard (the 7:20 mark), they outscored the Clippers 117-109 over the rest of the game.

Jackson had 19 points (8-of-18 shooting); he’s now averaging 18.2 points on 45.8 percent shooting over his last 10 games.

Chandler has now missed three of the last four games; he’s missed eight games overall this season due injury/illness.

Tyler Ulis (back) was available to play, but did not; he was a DNP-Coach’s Decision for just the second time this year.

Davon Reed was assigned to the Northern Arizona Suns earlier in the day, his fifth G League assignment of the year.

UP NEXT

Another home game.

The Suns will complete the rare home back-to-back set with a matchup against Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, Feb. 24. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

It’s the fourth and final meeting. The Trail Blazers have won each of the first three games, including a 48-point victory in the season opener, the Suns’ largest loss in franchise history and Portland’s 100th win in the series.

Overall, the Suns are 19-6 against the Trail Blazers at Talking Stick Resort Arena since the start of the 2004-05 season.

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