Powell returns, Clippers beat Suns for 3rd straight win

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers got too comfortable against the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns and almost struggled.

Leading by 39 points in the third quarter, the Clippers survived an offensive rush from the Phoenix bench in the fourth to cruise to a 113-109 victory Wednesday night.

Norman Powell scored 24 points after two months off and Paul George had 19 points in three quarters to top 15,000 in his Clippers career.

“You can never relax in the NBA,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “The players are too good, the coaches are too good, and as soon as you let your guard down, things like this can happen.”

With nothing on the line, Phoenix rested All-Star shooting guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul and fellow starters Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder for the second night in a row. The Suns had already set a franchise record for wins in a season with 63 by knocking the Lakers out of playoff contention on Tuesday.

The Clippers defeated the Suns by three quarters. But Phoenix’s reserves put together a 48-point fourth quarter and then ran out of time.

“It’s a great lesson for our team and for any kid that’s watching, just play,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We just stuck with it and we had that determination from the Suns.”

Cameron Payne came back and hit a 3-pointer that brought the Suns within four with 10 seconds remaining. Amir Coffey was fouled and made two free throws to preserve the win.

Ish Wainwright scored a career-high 20 points to lead Phoenix. Aaron Holiday added 16 points and Bismack Biyombo had 14 points and 12 rebounds. The only starter in double figures was Payne with 13 points. The Suns’ bench outscored the Clippers’ reserves 66-58.

“When you have games like this, you find out who that guy is that you can bring into a big game,” Williams said. “You build that confidence in games like this.”

Los Angeles Clippers forward Norman Powell, left, shoots as Phoenix Suns forward Ish Wainright defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 6, 2022, in Los Angeles.

George and Powell were playing together for the first time this season, but quickly fell into sync to help the Clippers win their third straight game. They are locked into the eighth spot for next week’s Western Conference play-in tournament.

George has played in five of six games since returning from a torn UCL. Powell is back after missing 21 games with a broken foot. He played in only three games with the team before getting injured shortly after he was acquired in a trade from Portland.

“Playing with PG still didn’t feel real to me,” Powell said. “I looked up to him growing up. Early in my career, he gave me some words of encouragement that have stuck with me.”

George scored 10 of his team’s first 14 points to start the game. Powell entered for the first time late in the first quarter and hit a jump shot.

They started the second quarter together. Powell hit a back-to-back 3-pointer and jump shot, then George found him for another 3-pointer as part of a 22-0 run.

“We just try to play against each other,” George said. “The most important thing for me was to play without the ball and let Norm feel comfortable. He is a great midfielder and a scorer without the ball”.

The Suns’ first points didn’t come until 6:49, when former Clipper Landry Shamet hit a 3-pointer.

The Clippers outscored the Suns 34-9 in the second to lead 60-31 before halftime.

Ivica Zubac had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers.

ADVICE

Suns: His 31 points in the first half were the fewest the Clippers allowed in a half this season. … JaVale McGee led a fun, swearing group into the tunnel before the Suns took the court to warm up. … The Jenner sisters, Kylie and Kendall, who are dating Booker, sat across from the team’s dugout.

Clippers: Split the season series, 2-2. … A moment of silence was held for Gene Shue, a two-time NBA coach of the year who had two separate stints managing the Clippers. He died earlier this week at age 90. … Hall of Famer and Clippers executive Jerry West posed for a photo at halftime with Grammy-nominated Saweetie, who sported bright pink hair. … Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen sat courtside.

15K for PG

George reflected on becoming the 16th active player with at least 15,000 points in his career.

“I’m just a kid who literally came from the desert,” he said, referring to his high-desert hometown of Palmdale, north of Los Angeles. “Every time I hit the ground, especially because of injuries, I always appreciate the opportunity.”

He added, “Hopefully, I’ll hit the 20,000 milestone and the 30,000 milestone.”

UNTIL NEXT TIME

Suns: Visit Utah on Friday.

Clippers: Host Sacramento on Saturday in the first straight game.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Conversations are the opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of conduct. The Star does not endorse these views.

Leave a Comment