The LA Clippers used a big second half to pummel the Phoenix Suns in their first game back at STAPLES Center from a six-game road trip.
After embarking on a six-game road trip out East, the LA Clippers finally returned home to STAPLES Center on December 17, exactly two weeks after their last contest there. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Clippers so far this season, it’s that they love to play at home.
With a 120-99 win over the Phoenix Suns, LA moved to 21-8 on the season and 14-1 at home — the second-best home record in the NBA, and the best in the Western Conference.
The road hasn’t been easy. The Clippers have hosted some of the league’s best teams on their floor, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, who are responsible for LA’s lone home loss.
At least during the beginning of Tuesday night’s game, the Clippers looked like they may surrender their second home loss of the season.
Despite coming into the night as the better-rested team, LA looked sluggish at times in the first half. The transition between the starters exiting and the bench coming on was poor, there were a few unforced turnovers (a common issue this season) and the Clippers were failing to match Phoenix’s intensity. Paul George carried the offense with 18 points through the first two frames, but no other Clipper had scored more than eight at that point.
Fortunately, things changed in the second half.
LA’s 10-point advantage ballooned as high as 23 in the fourth quarter, largely because of an 11-0 run from Lou Williams that essentially put the Suns out of the game.
Kawhi Leonard also caught fire after the break, scoring all 12 of his second-half points in the third quarter. He finished with 20 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal in a team-high 27 minutes.
The Clippers appear to be streaking at the right time, winning 14 of their last 17 games and cutting into the Lakers’ hold of the top seed in the Western Conference. LA will have a tough slate to finish out the year, but their incredibly soft January schedule should keep them right in the mix with their intra-city rival.
To get a taste of what we learned from LA’s victory over the Phoenix Suns, continue to the following slides.