Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Matt Barnes got open a few times to start the third, got open a few more times, and by the end of the quarter had scored 18 points to help the game swing the Clippers’ way. Barnes had a 28-point scoring night and hit 12-of-17 from the field overall.
Defining moment: After the majority of Barnes’ flurry was over , Blake Griffin took it to the post. Griffin finished with 22 points and six assists, but his role in Los Angeles’ outscoring Phoenix 37-18 in the third was a big part of Barnes going 7-for-7 in the quarter.
That was … a point guard battle. Both Chris Paul and Goran Dragic went back and forth at each other, at one point getting in a tussle that went unnoticed by the game officials. Both had quiet, 14-point nights, but it was a fun battle to watch.
– Kevin Zimmerman
Tweet(s) of the Night
Clippers seem to have a glut of forwards & still no reliable backup 5. How will they keep'em all happy (mins, touches)? Stay tuned, I guess
— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) March 5, 2014
I love that Gerald Green thinks he's the best player on the court no matter who is out there.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) March 5, 2014
I know the Clips just beat the Suns, but I will maintain that they are the team I would not want LAC to face in the first round.
— Andrew Han (@andrewthehan) March 5, 2014
Shades of Sam Cassell
The Depth Charge
|Ryan Hollins, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Hedo Turkoglu, PF||3||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||+1||0|
|Big Baby Davis, PF||9||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||1||0||0||2||4||-13||0|
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Sean Highkin of USA Today joins Fred, Andrew and Patrick to discuss Matt Branes’ recent play, DeAndre Jordan’s defensive improvement, Danny Granger, and who the most dangerous first-round matchup is for the Clippers.
Check Your Messages
Matt Barnes shot 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from three over his first 37 games of the season. Maybe it was because of the after effects of his eye injury. Maybe it was because of something else. But for whatever reason, Barnes wasn’t hitting his shots. But now, he’s on his way back.
Over his past seven games, Barnes is averaging 17.3 points and 5.3 rebounds on 59 percent shooting. He’s making 3.3 threes a game. He’s been completely and utterly on fire.
It’s possible Barnes is just hot. That it’s regression to the mean making up for an abnormally slow start. Or it could have something to do with Barnes finally finding a rhythm after suffering that eye injury. Either way, the Clippers should be happy that for the first time this season, they have a small forward who’s become a threat.
- Fred Katz
In Defense Of Prevention
The Suns pushed the Clippers to the brink defensively running a pass, pace and space heavy offense. Very rarely will you see L.A. have to keep so active on the defensive end, with stretches in the fourth quarter mimicking a track meet as defenders sprinted to close out the bevy of shooters.
Blake Griffin was especially tested, targeted in a tricky 4-5 pick-and-roll Phoenix ran often to pull DeAndre Jordan out of the paint. Griffin has had a tendency to struggle with recovering onto shooters after the initial hedge. Tonight, he managed to play Channing Frye superbly while providing terrific help D all game. Frye attempted just one three-pointer, an impressive feat considering he puts up 5.5 attempts nightly, which is 55 percent of his total shot attempts.
- David Vertsberger
When the Clippers re-signed Matt Barnes this offseason, many fans felt it was a no-brainer. The 10-year veteran small forward was arguably the team’s most consistent player off last year’s bench, and he was the lone bright spot during its elimination game at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies.
This year, Barnes has struggled a bit, with injuries and inconsistent wing play forcing him into starters’ minutes to diminished returns. That is, until he was almost traded.
Over his last five games, Barnes has averaged 17.8 points on 61.8 percent shooting, and he’s drained a scorching 17 of his 32 three-point attempts. Last week I said he wouldn’t spit hot fire forever — and then Tuesday he went 7 for 7 in the third quarter, single-handedly keeping the Clippers in the game.
Is the blaze sustainable? No. But for now, it’s still burning.
- Patrick James
Now And Then
The biggest difference between the last time the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns faced off in late December and their matchup Tuesday night was Blake Griffin’s offensive evolution.
It was on display from the opening tip, when Griffin contributed to four of the Clippers’ first five scoring possessions by either scoring or facilitating in the open court. It was also featured late, when the Clippers fed him on the block and he faced up and banked in a clutch jumper to help secure a 104-96 win over a scrappy Suns squad.
Arguably the second-biggest difference, however, was the promotion of Matt Barnes into the starting lineup.
- Jovan Buha at ESPN Los Angeles