Suns 93, Clippers 88By The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Fri, Jan 25, 2013 1:50 AM EST
PHOENIX -- Goran Dragic scored 19 of his 24 points in the first half, and Marcin Gortat added 15 points as the Phoenix Suns held on to earn their second win in as many nights under new interim coach Lindsey Hunter, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 93-88 Thursday. Luis Scola and Markieff Morris had 14 points apiece for Phoenix, which had just 13 wins in its first 41 games and had lost 13 of its past 15 games before Alvin Gentry was fired last Friday. The Suns have now won back-to-back games for the first time since winning four straight from Dec. 12-19. Jamal Crawford had 21 points off the bench and Eric Bledsoe scored 15 for the Clippers, who have lost three straight games for the first time since losing four in a row in late November. Los Angeles' offense was out of sync all night as the team played for the fifth time in the past seven games without star guard Chris Paul. Clippers power forward Blake Griffin finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. He missed six of eight free throws. The Suns led 86-79 after a Gortat layup with three minutes left, but the Clippers answered with six straight points. The run was capped by Crawford's 3-pointer with 26.9 seconds left that cut Phoenix's lead to 86-85, but the Suns hit five of six free throws late to seal the win. A night after giving Hunter a win in his coaching debut in Sacramento, the Suns jumped out to a quick 10-point lead in the first period thanks to eight points and three assists in the first seven minutes by Dragic. Los Angeles missed five free throws -- four of them by Griffin -- but still closed to within 24-20 by the end of the quarter. The Suns stretched their lead to 39-28 on Michael Beasley's jumper with 6:21 to go in the second quarter. Two dunks by Griffin started the Clippers on an 18-5 run the was capped by another slam, this one by DeAndre Jordan that put the Clippers in front 47-46 with 1:12 left in the half. Dragic scored six of his 11 second-quarter points in the final 42.7 seconds -- two thanks to technical fouls on Crawford and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro -- and the Suns led 50-46 at the half. The Clippers didn't have a double-figure scorer in the first half, but Crawford, who leads the NBA in 20-point games off the bench, scored 11 in the third quarter, including nine straight. His work kept Los Angeles within two points entering the final period. NOTES: With Gentry fired and assistants Dan Majerle and Elston Turner both leaving, Hunter's coaching staff now consists of Igor Kokoskov, Noel Gillespie and Dan Panaggio. ... Hunter said he was nervous and anxious for his NBA coaching debut in Sacramento, but he had a lot of fun. "It's funny. I was thinking about coaching my kids in high school and AAU and it's basically the same thing, on a different scale," he said. "But basically the same thing. So that's how I treated it." ... Hunter played for Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro in Chicago and he played with Clippers veteran Grant Hill in Detroit ... In Hunter's debut during Wednesday's win over the Kings, the Suns had a season-high 14 steals and forced a season-high 25 turnovers. The Clippers headed into the Thursday leading the NBA in both categories -- making 10.4 steals a game and forcing 17 turnovers. ... The Suns' comeback from 10 down in Sacramento was their seventh double-digit comeback win this season. Only Utah (10), Houston (eight) and Milwaukee (eight) have more.
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