The Los Angeles Clippers, led by their infamous “Bench Mob,” broke open a tight game and pulled away in the 4th quarter to defeat the Phoenix Suns 117-99. It was their 5th straight victory and the Suns’ 6th consecutive loss.
Led by Jamal Crawford’s 21 points, 13 of which came in the last 12 minutes, the Clippers starting five sat almost the entire quarter as Matt Barnes, Eric Bledsoe, Rony Turiaf, Jamal Crawford, and Lamar Odom turned a 2 point lead into double digits midway through. Odom had a particularly effective outing, scoring 8 points and pulling down 8 rebounds, as well as frustrating Luis Scola defensively and discouraging penetration. The bench also managed to cool the 3-point happy Suns, who kept bombing away all game to stay close before the Clippers’ defense adjusted and cooled them off.
Chris Paul, who had been urged to be more aggressive – especially with regard to scoring – had 16 points and 11 assists in just under 30 minutes of play. Blake Griffin led all scorers with 24 points, adding 8 rebounds in 29 minutes.
But it was Jamal Crawford who sparked the team in the 4th, scoring 13 points on a series of spectacular shots, including a driving no-look layup in traffic to extend the Clippers lead to 15 and put any chance of an upset to rest. He also fed Eric Bledsoe, who was creating havoc all over the floor, for a breakaway dunk that prompted Phoenix’s last timeout with under five minutes remaining.
The Clippers found themselves down 9 early, as Shannon Browne and Jared Dudley hit back to back wide open jumpers and the Suns seemed to score at will on defensive lapses. Michael Beasley came in to hit four more 3-pointers and finished with a team high 21 points for the Suns. Jermaine O’Neal was ejected early in the 4th quarter and the game got testy as Blake Griffin lashed out after a non-call.
Jamal Crawford hit four more free throws to extend his streak to 55.
The Clippers face off against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday at 12:30pm. The Raptors have lost 9 of 10.