When the Clippers have fallen to opponents in 2010-11, there have typically been two things that happened: Blake Griffin got pushed around and an opposing point guard went off at the offensive end. That was unfortunately the case against the Phoenix Suns at home Sunday as Griffin got shoved off his spots and Mo Williams couldn't find a way to keep Steve Nash in front of him.
Griffin, despite his immense athletic gifts, has been vulnerable to strong power forwards and centers, such as Philadelphia's Elton Brand and the Lakers' Lamar Odom, causing him to have poor shooting nights or miss time because of foul trouble. Williams, on the other hand, just joined the team but looks as if he has the same problems -- bottling up guards who can consistently create off the dribble and hit long jumpers -- that predecessor Baron Davis did.
In this one, Griffin was bullied by the combination of Phoenix's Robin Lopez and Marcin Gortat; the two Phoenix big men banged Griffin in the back or on the shoulders almost every time he got the ball in the low post. The result: Rushing shots and trying too hard to power through the defense, Griffin shot just 6-for-18 from the field, fouled out with 4:09 left in the game and received a technical foul for yelling at the officials.
Williams, on the other hand, didn't have many problems when it came to making something happen against Nash, shooting 6-for-13 from the field, netting 18 points and handing out seven assists, with zero turnovers, in 30 minutes. But Williams could not keep Nash out of the lane or stop his passes, either off the dribble or in half-court sets, and the Phoenix guard ended up with 23 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds in 35 minutes.
Griffin and Williams have both made All-Star teams, and they are two of the most important offensive players the Clippers have at their disposal. In order to mitigate the damage done by opponents, the two need to work harder at pressuring opponents so the ball gets out of their hands and stays out of the hoop. Next up are the youthful Washington Wizards on Wednesday at the Staples Center.
SUNS 108, CLIPPERS 99: The Clippers had no answer for the Suns' offense in any quarter -- Phoenix scored 27 points in all four periods, hitting 10 3-pointers and shooting 48.8 percent overall while dropping the Clippers to 27-44 overall and 19-17 at home. The Phoenix bench augmented the starters amply, pumping in 51 points to 30 for the Clippers' reserves.
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