LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and the unbeaten Los Angeles Clippers hung on down the stretch for a 102-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.
The Clippers are off to a 4-0 start for the fourth time in franchise history and the first time since winning the first five games of the 1985-86 season, their second in Los Angeles after relocating from San Diego. They beat Phoenix for the eighth straight time in their longest streak against Phoenix in the rivalry’s 46-year history.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers credited the bench with the win, saying after the game that they were “getting it together”.
Markieff Morris scored 19 points for the Suns, who were coming off back-to-back wins against Portland following their opening night loss against Dallas. Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 17 rebounds.
Morris hit a 3-pointer toward the end of a 24-7 run, putting the Suns ahead 66-65 with 3:12 left in the third quarter after the Clippers led by as many as 14 points with 8:22 left in the period.
But Los Angeles regained the lead at 73-72 on a 3 by Josh Smith with 55 seconds left in the third, and held on despite leading by no more than six points at any time in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers held a 48-39 lead at halftime after holding Phoenix to 31.1 percent shooting. Griffin and Paul were on the bench while reserves Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson and Austin Rivers combined with DeAndre Jordan on a 15-0 run that turned an eight-point deficit into a 39-32 lead with 6:20 left in the second quarter.
The Suns missed eight shots and committed six turnovers during their five-minute second scoring drought, which ended on Chandler’s dunk off an alley-oop lob from Brandon Knight with 4:41 left in the half. Morris was 1 for 11 from the field before intermission, while the Suns missed 15 of their last 17 shots in the half.
Pierce made a nice recovery in the backcourt to help set up a fast-break layup by Wesley Johnson that cut Phoenix’s lead to 32-30 with 7:46 left in the second quarter.
Pierce grabbed a rebound of T.J. Warren’s short jumper and tried to pass the ball as he fell down. Jon Leuer scooped it up for the Suns, but Warren missed a three-footer and Pierce again grabbed the rebound before getting the ball up court to Crawford.
Former Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe, who scored 33 points Saturday night in the Suns’ 101-90 win at Portland, had 16 points and seven assists after getting in early foul trouble.
Suns: Morris is still adjusting to life on the court without twin brother Marcus, following the latter’s trade to Detroit in July. They were teammates for two-plus seasons. “It’s probably different for him. I mean, those two kind of fed off each other,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “I’m sure there’s going to be times when he’s looking around, saying: `Where’s Marcus?’ But he wants to help this team win any way he can.”
Clippers: They haven’t lost to Phoenix since Dec. 30, 2013, when they shot 36.5 percent and none of their players had more than 15 points in a 19-point defeat at Staples Center. … Jordan had nine rebounds and is 12 away from tying Elton Brand’s career franchise record of 4,710. … Crawford became the third shooting guard in NBA history to score 16,000 points when he hit a 3-pointer with 9:26 remaining.
Suns: Host Sacramento on Wednesday.
Clippers: At Golden State on Wednesday.
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