Clippers bounce back, beat Suns for 2nd time in 5 days – Press Enterprise

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LOS ANGELES — With another game the next day, the Clippers had little time to dwell on a stinging loss to the Lakers the night before. Especially with the Phoenix Suns and Kevin Durant in town, serving as a reminder that there are no nights off in the NBA.

Yet, showing no signs of a hangover from the previous night, the Clippers set their sights on the Suns, playing with a high level of energy that was missing 24 hours earlier and crushed Phoenix, 138-111, on Monday at Crypto.com Arena for their sixth win in seven games and their 15th in the past 18.

“I think losing that game yesterday woke us up,” Coach Tyronn Lue said. “The way we played defensively was really good I thought, in that second half, especially. And just showed them different coverages and I thought offensively, the ball moved. Created easy shots for one another. That’s the way we have to play.”

The kind of focus enabled the Clippers to not only contend with Durant, who was making his return after missing the previous three games, but also a healthy Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. All three have missed significant playing time recently because of injuries.

But the Clippers (23-13) also had a full complement of healthy players that allowed them to play their starters 25-plus minutes. Paul George led the Clippers with 25 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes. James Harden had 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, Ivica Zubac had 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists and Kawhi Leonard finished with 17 points.

Leonard, who has played in 34 of 36 games this season, said the Clippers, like all NBA teams, need to be prepared for the rigors of playing back-to-back games and the losses that can accompany quick turnarounds.

“This team is full of vets so we know that and we just got to throw that game away and come out the next game with a better mindset and try to win,” Leonard said.

The most prominent absence in the Suns’ lineup recently has been Durant, who was out because of a hamstring injury. He had been averaging 29.6 points before being sidelined. But Monday, he was back in uniform and had 20 of his game-high 30 points before halftime, a not-so-subtle reminder of his offensive skills, something the Clippers didn’t have to experience when the teams met last week in Phoenix.

Durant was sidelined when the Clippers visited Phoenix last week and watched their modest four-game winning streak end in a contentious nine-point loss in which both teams complained about the officiating.

“They’re a really good team, really great players, and they’re a dangerous team,” Lue said. “Once they figure it out, it’s going to be hell for a lot of teams. They’re dangerous no matter when they have those three guys on the floor. Even with two guys on the floor, they’re dangerous.”

The Clippers didn’t wince against the Suns, who came in with renewed expectations with Durant back.

Much like the Clippers last year, injuries have hampered the Suns’ ability to develop much chemistry or rhythm. So, with or without the 13-time All-Star, the story wasn’t much different Monday night in L.A. The Clippers controlled this game, too.

Lue said the Clippers needed to be better in this game and the players responded, shooting a season-best 67% in the first half and stretching their 71-63 halftime lead to a 15-point advantage midway through the third quarter as Durant sat. Suns coach Frank Vogel said they were going to minimize Durant’s minutes in his first game back, sitting him for a stretch in the third quarter.





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