"They are probably the best team in the league at least they are playing like it right now." -- Gentry on the Clippers
The Phoenix Suns (11-16) look to rebound after last nights heart-breaker of a loss against the Los Angeles Clippers (20-6). Not exactly a warm cup of hot chocolate in front of the fire two days before Christmas.
Earlier this season the Suns took the "other Los Angeles team" to the wire -- through three quarters. After three it was a two point game and the Suns were on the verge of an upset Instead of a competitive finish between two Divisional rivals Jamal Crawford took over with 11 points and 2 assists in the first five minutes ballooning the lead to 15 just like that.
The Suns are going to have to counteract the play of Crawford with Shannon Brown who has shown the ability to score in bunches off of the bench this season.
He is not the only player off of the bench that will be ready to contribute as Head Coach Alvin Gentry has his eyes on former Sun Matt Barnes. "Matt Barnes has really been the key for them." That is high praise for a single player on a team with the second best record in the NBA and obviously playing like the best team in the league according to coach.
Alvin, is there anything you can do to counteract their bench? "Have a better bench, which doesn't exist."
One player on that bench that will not suit up, but headed to the visitors locker room to dress for the first time in January 13th, 2007 as a member of the Orlando Magic. Times have changed for Grant, here in Phoenix, and out in Los Angeles.
PG - Goran Dragic v. Chris Paul
SG - Shannon Brown v. Willie Green
SF - Jared Dudley v. Caron Butler
PF - Luis Scola v. Blake Griffin
C - Marcin Gortat v. DeAndre Jordan
Inactives Suns: Michael Beasley (Illness)
Inactives Clippers: Chauncey Billups (Left Foot), Grant Hill (Right Knee), and Trey Thompkins (Left Knee)
Suns Bench v. Clippers Bench
On the season the Clippers have the second best bench in the NBA at 41.7 points per game and the Suns have the eighth best bench scoring 36.8 a game. Each team brings an energy and reckless abandon allowing the starters to rest while stretching the score.
Most benches are there to maintain a lead or a deficit, but these teams are able to win games with their "stars" on the bench. Whoever gets the most out of the second unit should win this game.
Vinny Del Negro on a potential let down tonight:
"No, no. Not with our guys we know what is at stake. It is all about us and it is an opportunity to improve. There is a lot that we can get better at. Every game is different so we have to come ready to play, execute, and make good decisions."
On the Suns:
"Phoenix is playing well, they had a tough loss last night, and we cannot turn the ball over especially like last game. We have to come ready to play."
The Clippers have four players that average at least 1+ steal per game and those four speed the game up to the point where opposing teams have no answer turning the ball over a league most 17.5 times a game. The Suns do not win games where they turn the ball over, protecting the ball will be crucial.