NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, April 3rd
(All times Eastern)
Phoenix Suns (23-51) at Los Angeles Clippers (49-26), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - History will be on the line Wednesday night for the Los
Angeles Clippers as they try to bounce back versus the Phoenix Suns.
The Clippers will get their fourth shot at 50 wins in a season for the first
time in franchise history, which would surpass the 49 triumphs (49-33) from
the 1974-75 campaign. The team was located in Buffalo then.
Los Angeles can also clinch its first-ever Pacific Division title with a win
over the Suns, coupled by a Golden State loss against New Orleans. The
Clippers are 6 1/2 games ahead of the Warriors in the division and opened a
four-game homestand with a 109-106 loss to Indiana on Monday.
A valiant effort by the hosts in the fourth quarter (41-28) wasn't enough to
keep L.A. out of the loss column. In the team's third straight loss and fourth
in five tries, Jamal Crawford scored 25 points off the bench and Blake Griffin
netted 17 in defeat.
Crawford spoke of the Clippers' recent woes.
"We don't have the luxury of saying, 'Ok, next game, next game,'" said
Crawford, who had 15 points in the fourth quarter versus the Pacers. "Once you
get behind one game (in the standings) it's tough to crawl back."
Actually, the playoff-bound Clippers are 1 1/2 games ahead of Denver for the
fourth spot in the West and the chances of moving up to two are slim.
Chris Paul had 10 points and eight assists in the recent setback for Los
Angeles, which is 28-9 at home and will also entertain the rival Lakers and
Timberwolves on the residency. Three more wins at home would set a franchise
record (30, 1974-75).
Phoenix would enjoy nothing more than to keep the champagne on ice for a
Clippers team on the verge of capturing a division crown.
The Suns have lost six in a row and 10 of 11 games, and recently suffered a
loss to the same team the Clippers did, the Pacers. In a 112-104 defeat on
Saturday, Goran Dragic ended with 21 points and nine assists for the Suns, who
will miss the playoffs for a third straight year. Markieff Morris and Jermaine
O'Neal finished with 18 and 13 points, respectively.
"Like I have said before there are no moral victories, but when you are
traveling down the road we are traveling you have to get small victories out
of tough times," Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said. "I think tonight we got a lot
of small victories. That is a championship-caliber team over there I would say
and I think we fought them toe-to-toe right up until the end."
Hunter should be pleased after watching his team put up 104 points against one
of the best defenses in the league.
Suns swingman P.J. Tucker had 11 points versus Indiana and is questionable
Wednesday with a sore knee. Tucker has been in the starting lineup since Dec.
31 and has started 37 of the last 42 games. Dragic, meanwhile, is averaging
15.6 points and 9.5 assists since the All-Star break.
Phoenix, which will play four of the next six away from the desert, has lost
five in a row on the road and is just 7-29 as the guest.
The Suns have lost two of three against the Clippers this season, but are
still 15-4 in the past 19 matchups between the Pacific foes.
04/03 10:28:18 ET