Suns hand Clippers biggest loss of season

Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Even after a lopsided loss, Doc Rivers had his sense of humor intact.
"You're still here?" the Los Angeles Clippers coach joked as he entered his postgame press conference. "I tried to get thrown out in the first half, but they wouldn't let me go."
Rivers endured the worst setback in his first season on the job in Los Angeles. The Phoenix Suns, behind 26 points from guard Goran Dragic, coasted to a 107-88 rout of the Clippers before a sellout crowd of 19,278 at Staples Center on Monday night.
Phoenix (19-11) snapped the Clippers' five-game home winning streak. The Suns, who pulled to within a half-game of Los Angeles (21-12) for the division lead, also captured their 10th win in 12 games.
"We were awful," Rivers said. "Give them credit though. I thought they were so much tougher than us. They got into us, ran through it. I thought the first three plays of the game basically showed the differences in the two teams tonight. We couldn't even make a simple entry pass. Give them all the credit."
Dragic, who also had eight assists and five steals, drained 10 of his 15 shots from the floor in 32 minutes.
"Our job was to come strong, especially the first half, and try to force them to play our rhythm, and I think we did a good job," said Dragic, who did not play in the fourth quarter. "This is our game. We try to play a fast, up-tempo game. I think it's much better when you play like that. You know half-court is really tough for us. We have to push the ball and try to get everybody involved."
Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said of Dragic, "He was going pretty good there. Right from the start, he got that first steal and layup. That was a pretty good sign he was ready to go and fired up. Goran's played well a lot of times this year. That was just another example of a good game from him."
Reserve guard Gerald Green added 21 points, hitting five of the Suns' 12 3-pointers. Forwards P.J. Tucker and Channing Frye chipped in 12 points each. Frye also helped limit Clippers forward Blake Griffin, who scored a total of 75 points in his previous two games, to 15 points and five rebounds.
Guard Eric Bledsoe, in his first game at Staples Center against his former club since he was dealt to Phoenix for forward Jared Dudley and guard J.J. Redick, wasn't much of a factor, finishing with seven points and four assists.
Guard Jamal Crawford also had 15 points for Los Angeles. Clippers forward Matt Barnes scored 13 points, while guard Chris Paul had 11 points and seven assists.
"I don't think they caught us off-guard. We knew how they were going to play," Paul said of the Suns, one of the bigger surprises of the NBA this season. "They took things away, and this is just a tough one for us. It might be one of the worst ones since I've been here. We've got a work day tomorrow, and we've got to get back at it."
Phoenix had everything going its way from the opening tip, rolling to a 9-0 lead before the game was two minutes old.
The Suns held a 61-40 lead at halftime as Dragic hit eight of his 10 shots from the field for 20 points, 13 of them coming in the first quarter. Phoenix also got a boost off the bench from Green, who scored 14 in the second quarter, converting four of his seven attempts from behind the arc.
"Gerald, that's what he does," Hornacek said. "Some nights he comes in there and lights it up and he takes shots that we all shake our heads at but we kind of let it go because he gets on these streaks. It's something we live with, but that's what he gives us."
The Suns outscored the Clippers 31-16 in the second quarter.
NOTES: Phoenix G Eric Bledsoe, who got a warm reception from the Clippers fans during introductions, remains close to Clippers G Chris Paul, frequently exchanging texts. ... Suns first-year coach Jeff Hornacek admitted that even he is surprised by the team's strong start. "We thought if we'd just play hard, play together, we'd win a good amount of games," he said. "But (we) probably exceeded our expectations. It's early in the season, though." ... Clippers F Blake Griffin, a career 62.2 percent free-throw shooter, had hit 99 of 127 attempts (77.9 percent) in 15 games this month. He shot 5-for-7 from the line Monday. ... The Clippers play host to the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. ... The Suns return home to face the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.

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