The Clippers season ended in heartbreaking fashion Wednesday night, as they fell to the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals 130-103.
The Clippers came out of the gate shooting sluggishly, with the exception of Patrick Beverley who sunk two layups and connected on a three in the early minutes. Paul George and Marcus Morris Sr. had a number of wide open looks but just could not hit.
The Suns made early efforts to push the pace and attack LA’s zone defense. Chris Paul, who had not looked quite right from long since returning from COVID protocols, sunk a pair from beyond the arc, a good early sign for the Suns’ faithful. Time out Ty Lue.
Out of the time out LA moved to a man-to-man defense. Phoenix were looking to feed Deandre Ayton, and did so successfully, as he had 10 in the frame. Booker also had a hot hand, finishing with 9.
Reggie Jackson and Patrick Beverley were best in the quarter for the Clippers, scoring 8 and 7 points respectively. DeMarcus Cousins, who entered the game with just under two and a half minutes left in the frame, paid immediate dividends, hitting two threes for LA, including one at the buzzer.
After one, 29-33 Suns.
The Clippers started the second quarter without having committed any fouls in the game. Defensive intensity was lacking; the Suns were scoring at will. The Suns took advantage of Cousins’ continued presence on the floor by repeatedly running high pick and roll plays, extending their lead to 10.
With just over 8 minutes left in the half, the Clippers were finally called for a foul (on a block that was not even a foul, ironically), but it did mark an uptick in the team’s intensity. Patrick Beverley’s return to the floor helped. Mr. 94-feet was a menace on defense, talked smack non-stop, and was aggressive on offense. At one point, as Mark Jackson aptly put it, he even “did a CP3 on CP3.”
Marcus Morris found his stroke before the break, at one point hitting five buckets in a row. He finished the half with 13 points. Paul George, on the other hand, struggled to score, connecting on only 3 of 8 from the field for 6 points. He definitely lacked the aggression and energy demonstrated in Game 5.
Despite PG13s quiet start, the Clippers only trailed by 9 at the half, 66-57.
Stats at the Half
- Marcus Morris Sr.: 13 points, 2 rebounds
- Reggie Jackson: 11 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal
- Patrick Beverley: 11 points, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block.
- DeMarcus Cousins: 10 points
- Jae Crowder: 16 points
- Devin Booker: 14 points
- DeAndre Ayton: 10 points, 7 rebounds
The Suns outplayed the Clippers in nearly every category:
- The Suns shot 55.3 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from three. The Clippers shot 46.5 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three
- Points in the paint favored the Suns 24-22
- Second chance points favored the Suns 15-7
- Fast break points favored the Suns 4-2
- The Clippers were out-rebounded by the Suns 21-16
Coming out of the break, the Clippers stuttered and the Suns punched, extending the lead to 14 by the midway point. The Clippers made a 10-0 run towards the end of the quarter to cut the lead to 7, but the Suns responded, on an 8-0 run by master-flopper Chris Paul to end the quarter up 14, 83-97. With 12 minutes left, the Clippers needed to dig deep.
In the final frame, the Suns continued to roll, quickly extending the lead to 20. The Clippers looked EXHAUSTED. The team never gave up, but simply did not have the legs to make a comeback. The Suns, tonight, were the healthier, more rested, and more physical team.
Final buzzer of the series, and the season. Suns win 130-103.
End of Game Stats
The Clippers ended the game with five guys in double figures: Morris (26), George (21), Jackson (13), Cousins (12) and Beverley (11).
Chris Paul was remarkable for the Suns, with 41 points and 8 assists. I imagine if there is any silver lining to this loss for long-time Clipper fans, it is that ex- Lob City Era Clipper CP3 is, for the first time in his illustrious career, going to the NBA Finals.
This year’s Clippers squad was beaten and left for dead at multiple times during this historic playoff run. They never quit. NEVER. A historic and immensely entertaining run by a group of guys with incredible talent, chemistry, fight and resilience.
The Clippers will be back. Count on that!
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