Lopez leads streaking Suns past Clippers
“I wasn’t even aware of it,” said a smiling Lopez, whose twin brother, Brook, leads the fraternal competition with a 32-point game. “I was just trying to catch (teammate) Goran Dragic’s(notes) 32 points.”
Lopez made 13 of 16 shots for the Suns, who beat the Clippers for the seventh straight time.
“To shoot that efficiently tells me I’m doing my job out there,” Lopez said. “That shows how much faith my teammates have in me and my coaches have in me.”
Amare Stoudemire added 20 points and Grant Hill(notes) had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Suns, who won for the sixth time in seven games since the All-Star break. Phoenix has won 12 of its past 14 overall.
“They stretched us out pretty good,” Gordon said. “We were playing good defense, then they stretched us out and started knowing down a lot of 3s. We just couldn’t score as much as they did.”
“I told Chris I thought he let the team down and crossed the line with what he said to the referee,” Clippers coach Kim Hughes said. “He wasn?t getting calls and I agree with him, but it’s not going to do him any good what he said to the official. He can’t put the team in a position like that. He’s too valuable to be thrown out. It was just a bad basketball play.”
Kaman had no comment.
“Chris has to keep his cool, especially being an All-Star center,” said Baron Davis(notes), who finished with 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting. “He knows we need him. It was just an unfortunate situation.”
The Suns’ winning streak had been predicated on defense, with all but one of their past four opponents held under 100 points. That trend came to a halt against the Clippers, who scored 59 points in the first half and 86 through three quarters.
“It was a good win, but on defense, not so good,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “They had a lot of penetration and we didn’t do a good job keeping them out of the paint.”
Fortunately for the Suns, they had Lopez and Stoudemire.
Drew Gooden(notes) gave the Clippers their only lead of the second half, 73-72, on an offensive rebound and putback with 8:31 left in the third quarter. Jason Richardson’s(notes) 3-pointer put Phoenix back in front 75-73, then Lopez and Stoudemire combined to score nine of the Suns’ next 11 points as Phoenix went ahead 85-78 with 4:48 left in the period.
“We turned it on,” Stoudemire said. “We knew that they’ve got guys who can score the ball, so you want to come out with a lot of intensity and counter theirs. We established our defensive pressure and got the win.”
The Clippers pulled within four early in the fourth quarter, but consecutive 3-pointers by Dudley and Hill gave the Suns a 111-100 lead with 6:52 remaining.
Dudley added a second 3-pointer with 5:01 left to give Phoenix its biggest lead at 116-102.
NOTES: Gooden was whistled for a flagrant foul when he threw Lopez to the court following an offensive rebound with 1:29 to go. … Phoenix has won 14 straight at home against Pacific Division opponents. … The Clippers’ last victory in Phoenix was April 17, 2007. … Kaman left with five rebounds, ending his streak of four straight double-doubles. … Lopez’s previous career high was 20 points on Jan. 20 against New Jersey.