After three straight losses on the road last week, the Los Angeles Clipper were reeling. After three straight wins at home, they seem to be getting back to their old Lob City selves. The Clippers won three straight for the first time in almost two full months when they beat the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night, 103-86. The game was close until midway through the third quarter, when the Clippers blew it open with a 30-15 run.
That run was capped off by a pair of Blake Griffin dunks, both assisted by Chris Paul. With four minutes left in the game and the Clippers up 13, the Suns might have still had designs on a comeback. Paul came around a Griffin screen, lured the defense toward the right of the lane, and then hit a diving Griffin with a perfect bounce pass. Channing Frye of the Suns made a brief, ill-advised attempt to stop the inevitable before ducking for cover as Griffin delivered one of his monster one hand finishes.
On the ensuing possession, Griffin jumped Steve Nash as he came around a Marcin Gortat screen and knocked the ball free, resulting in a two on none break for Griffin and Paul. Griffin could have taken it in himself, but he passed it to Paul, who passed it back to Griffin for the dunk. Paul gets an extra assist, Griffin gets two points, and Lob City lives up to its name. Everybody wins. (Well, except the Suns.) Oh, and game over.
A Double Dose of Blake Griffin! (via NBA)
The Clippers, only days ago spiraling downward, are suddenly playing their best basketball of the season. Not only have they won three straight, they've won each by double digits -- they hadn't even won two straight by double digits this season until the current streak. They've also shot 50 percent or better in all threes wins, another season first. And they've held their opponents under 90 points in each game. The win over the Suns had to feel particularly good. Phoenix had already beaten the Clippers twice this season, the last time in L.A. while playing without Nash or Grant Hill.
As it happens, Hill missed this game as well, nursing a sore knee. Nash played, and had a very interesting line -- one point, and 15 assists. He's only the second person since 1985 to have 1 or fewer points and 15 or more assists in a NBA game. (John Stockton had two 1/15s in his career.) A lot of Nash's assists went to Marcin Gotat, who finished the game with 23 points, his fourth straight game of 20 or more. Frye scored 16 (but was just 2-for-11 from the three point arc) and three Suns had 10.
For the Clippers, Griffin finished with a huge game of 27 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. He made 13-of-19 field goals. Paul had 15 each of points and assists, Caron Butler had 14 and DeAndre Jordan 13.
It was a good night all around for the Clippers, as several teams just below them in the ridiculously tight Western Conference standings lost on Wednesday. With Utah, Denver and of course the Suns all dropping their games, the Clippers were able to get a little extra breathing room in the fourth position.
With the win, the Clippers improve to 29-21, two games behind the Lakers in the Pacific Division. They've won the first three games of a five-game homestand and five straight at home overall to drive their home record to 18-8. The Suns drop a game below .500 at 25-26 on the season.
For all of Wednesday's box scores, see SI.com's NBA scoreboard.