Things got chippy in the battle between two of the best teams in the Western Conference, with the LA Clippers outlasasting the Phoenix Suns 113-103.
The Clippers got 33 points from Paul George and 27 from Kawhi Leonard, outscoring the Suns 30-22 in the fourth to pick up an important win.
Postgame, the scoreboard was overshadowed by the tension on the floor that saw a series of technical fouls handed out and the ejection of LA duo Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris.
To the surprise of nobody, newly acquired Clippers guard Rajon Rondo was central to the action, finishing with 15 points and nine assists in the type of physical contest that he has thrived in over the course of his career.
"Communication at all times on the floor, just being on the same page," Rondo responded postgame when asked how the team kept focus. "I love to chat a little bit and they pretty much started in the first half so other than that I was just playing the game but sometimes it involves a little bit of chatter."
Sheesh. pic.twitter.com/OYWMBTsR7x- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 9, 2021
The big night for George included some scorching shooting from the outside, with the All-Star forward going 7-for-9 from beyond the arc. Incredibly, the seven made triples topped the total of six for the entire Phoenix roster.
Speaking with media after the game, George was adament the Clippers locker room remains focused on their own play, not that of the opposition.
"We focused on us. I don't know what their chirp was about, we are focused on us," George said. "I don't care what they are doing over there, I don't care who they are or what they're doing. I'm locked in. They can do the chirp, I let them have it tonight. I just stayed in my zone, stayed in my place. Again, I don't care what they are doing, we are focused on getting better. Tonight was a fun matchup and we appreciate the challenge."
📊 15 PTS / 5-8 FG / 9 AST / 0 TO@RajonRondo was hoopin'. pic.twitter.com/EUrq7Z7RB0- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 9, 2021
The win solidified the Clippers hold on the three seed in the West, leaving them two games behind the Suns in second, setting up a potential collision course in the second round of the playoffs.
"I don't have any concerns, I love it," head coach Ty Lue responded when asked about the physical nature of the game. "You are competing at a high level against one of the best teams in the league. Do what you got to do to win. I thought our guys were physical, I thought we comepted and just stayed the course. There's going to be games like this where it's going to be chippy. They are fighting for something, we are fighting for something so it's going to happen and I'm ok with it."
For those who can't wait for the potential playoff matchup, get your popcorn because the two squads will meet again in 20 days time for onelast regular season meeting.
Suns brutal back-to-back
For Phoenix, the matchup presented a brutal back-to-back on the schedule after defeating the Utah Jazz in overtime in what was one of the games of the season a night earlier. Devin Booker once again top scored for the Suns with 24 points, while Deandre Ayton added an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double.
After gaining ground on the Jazz, the Suns now drop back to 2.5 games behind Utah for the top spot in the West with 21 games left on their schedule.
MIKAL BRIDGES 🆙✈️ pic.twitter.com/LYFB5b5gIV- Phoenix Suns (@Suns) April 9, 2021
The Clippers go straight back to work when they host Houston on a back-to-back, while the Suns will head home to have one night off before hosting the Washington Wizards.
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