Clippers Improve to 6-0 when Healthy with win over Suns
On the heels of one of their most lopsided victories of the season, the L.A. Clippers went into Phoenix on Wednesday night and dominated the Suns down the stretch in a 102-92 win.
Defense was a priority for the Clippers, allowing just 63 points over the final three quarters. Phoenix's 92 points are tied for the third-fewest scored on L.A. all season.
The bulk of Phoenix's points came from Deandre Ayton, who went for 25 points on 22 shot attempts. First-time All-Star Devin Booker scored 14 points on 5-of-19 shooting from the floor.
Entering the season, the Clippers were billed as one of the best defensive teams in the league. And while the team hasn't reached its full potential just yet, it has looked more interested in playing defense lately. L.A. is giving up just 100.3 points per game since returning from the All-Star break and has had some seriously dominant stretches in that time.
The return of Patrick Beverley and Paul George certainly has something to do with that, but the whole team seems to have bought into playing more active basketball on that end of the floor, with a few exceptions. That's a mentality the Clippers will need to hang on to as the postseason draws near.
More importantly, the Clippers are finally playing more games with a fully healthy roster. Tonight's game against Phoenix marked the sixth time this season that L.A. had every player available, and unsurprisingly, the Clippers are 6-0 in such games.
Those wins have come against the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies, and now the Suns. The Clippers have won those games by an average margin of victory of 12.3 points.
Kawhi Leonard has been key in each of those games, and the same is true tonight. Leonard rattled off 24 points to go along with a season-high 14 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
That said, the Clippers' role players deserve a ton of credit for tonight's victory.
Ivica Zubac finally got minutes in the fourth quarter, and he kept the Suns out of striking distance with some impressive defense in the paint. His line of six points and five rebounds doesn't jump off the chart, but his play was key down the stretch.
Marcus Morris had his best game in a Clippers uniform, collecting 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and a block in 30 minutes of action. Morris went 4-of-8 from three-point range and played particularly well as a big in a small-ball lineup that featured JaMychal Green at center.
Reggie Jackson had an impressive performance as well, netting an efficient 12 points in 16 minutes. He's done well with his new role so far, and he's been a welcome addition to a bench that was already one of the deepest in the league.
The Clippers will get Thursday off before hosting the Denver Nuggets this Friday night.