The good news: The Suns were able to scrape by the Clippers on Sunday afternoon to tally their 21st win of the season. The bad news: The Suns had to scrape by the lowly Clippers to get the win.
Los Angeles had lost their previous 10 games and have not yet beat a team in their division. Yet Phoenix declined to let their fans have a lazy Sunday afternoon watching a blowout. Instead, they acquired several double-digit leads only to give those same leads up every time.
At the beginning of the game, The Suns looked like they were going to continue the domination of their opponents that started in the 3rd quarter of the Dallas game on Friday night by jumping out to a 12 to nothing lead. Then, whether it was because the Clippers finally woke up or because the Suns decided that a 12-point lead early in the game would stick for the entire contest, the Clippers game back and took the lead for a little while. In the third quarter, the Suns again gained a double-digit lead against the Clips only to give it up again. It wasn’t until about 3 minutes left in the game that Phoenix acquired a lead too large for the Clippers to surmount.
There wasn’t anything very impressive about this win. The team as a whole shot 45.3 percent from the field and only 28.6 percent from the three-point line. They had one less rebound than the Clippers and two more assists. Phoenix had 15 turnovers that turned into 23 points while forcing 18 turnovers that they converted into 27 points. It wasn’t a very pretty game and Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy must have decided the same thing – getting tossed with two quick technicals in the third quarter.
Two things of note to mention: Shaquille O’Neal continued his perfect free throw shooting for the second game in a row. He is now 12 for 12 from the charity stripe in the past two games. And Steve Nash led by example by taking at least five charges. His teammates must have decided that if their floor leaders was sacrificing his body, they could as well because pretty soon it seemed there were Suns players flying across the court nearly every other defensive possession.
Luckily, the NBA doesn’t have a BCS-like system that uses margin of victory to determine playoff seeding. Despite having the chance to blow out the Clippers, Phoenix just couldn’t pull it off. And while some of the same people who were jumping on the bandwagon after Friday night’s win against Dallas are probably ready to jump off a ledge after the Suns’ close call against the Clippers, the main thing is the Suns got the win. In the final standings, that’s really all that counts.