With a 2-0 series lead and a narrow lead at the break, the Phoenix Suns were a half away from having one hand on the conference championship by potentially taking a 3-0 lead. But in the next 24 minutes, the Suns got absolutely outplayed and outworked, epitomized by a 21-3 run from the Los Angeles Clippers in the third quarter.
The All-Star backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker combined for an uncharacteristically inefficient 10-40 from the field. The backcourt rotation was also hampered when last game’s top scorer, Cameron Payne, suffered an ankle sprain keeping him out for the entire second half.
Phoenix’s usually elite defense also looked sleepy especially during the second half. The Clippers ended up controlling everything, leading almost the entire second half. Paul George finished with 27 points and eight assists. Reggie Jackson turned in another great one, scoring 23 points and going 9-17 from the field.
Ivica Zubac played his best so far, hauling in a game-high 16 rebounds during the contest. That helped the Clippers also win the rebounding battle for the first time all series, something the Suns really should have under wraps each night given LA’s typical “small ball” approach.
Returning into the belly of the beast, the Suns play another one in the Staple Center tonight, hopefully this time with a better outcome. As the series now hangs in the balance ahead a crucial Game 4, here are four improvements the Suns need to make to grab this road victory, and a commanding 3-1 series lead.