Suns Can't Overcome Sluggish Start, Lose to Clippers

The Phoenix Suns took their time getting out of the gates.
Apr 9, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA;  LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) dunks the ball against
Apr 9, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) dunks the ball against / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns nearly overcame a shockingly awful start to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, though it was too little, too late when the final buzzer sounded.

The Clippers held off the Suns in 105-92 fashion on Tuesday without the talents of Kawhi Leonard or James Harden due to injury. Los Angeles led by as much as 37 on the night before getting a little too close to comfort near the end of action.

Phoenix themselves were without Jusuf Nurkic and Damion Lee due to injury.

Both teams will fly back to Los Angeles for the second night of a back-to-back tomorrow. The Suns now drop to 46-33 on the season and have now lost consecutive games for the first time in over a month. They're now 0-3 against the Clippers this season as L.A. looks for the sweep on Wednesday.

The Clippers emerged to a 17-2 start before Suns coach Frank Vogel was forced to call a timeout. Minutes later with just four points to Phoenix's name over halfway through the quarter, Vogel asked for a second stoppage in play in order to calm his troops while Footprint Center rang with displeasure.

With one more timeout (count that, three timeouts used in the first quarter) the bleeding finally stopped with Los Angeles up 37-10 after the opening quarter. Phoenix's big three of Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker shot a combined 0-12 while Los Angeles collected 21 rebounds of the Suns' 2-19 shooting.

Durant's first field goal of the night fell with 8:03 remaining in the first half, though the Clippers held their egregiously large advantage in 66-33 fashion as the two squads hit the locker room. Russell Westbrook nearly recorded a triple-double after two quarters with a 9-8-12 stat line while no Suns player scored more than six points.

Phoenix started the second half with Thad Young at the five spot rather than Eubanks, who started in place of Nurkic. The change proved to be somewhat impactful as the Suns shot out of the gates with an 11-4 run to begin the third.

It wasn't easy, though Phoenix chopped the lead down to under 20 with two minutes left in the third quarter thanks to a 12-0 run. Los Angeles clung to a 86-68 advantage.

Without wasting time, the Suns trimmed their deficit down to just ten two minutes into the fourth. The two squads struggled back-and-forth, though Phoenix wasn't quite able to make good on their open looks to further threaten victory as Grayson Allen finished 0-8 on all his three-point attempts.

Vogel emptied the bench with over a minute left, waving the white flag and seeing the Clippers victorious.

Donnie Druin