NBA News Wire

Clippers 104, Suns 96

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PHOENIX — The Los Angeles Clippers are waving goodbye to the rest of the Pacific Division.

The Clippers won their fifth straight game, downing the Phoenix Suns 104-96 on Tuesday night.

With 20 games to play, Los Angeles is 42-20, five games ahead of Golden State and six games ahead of the fading Suns, losers of four of their past six.

The Clippers’ win streak ties their longest of the season. They also have won eight of their past 10 games.

Forward Matt Barnes led the Clippers with 28 points, making 12 of 17 shots from the field. Forward Blake Griffin, who took over late, had 22 points, six assists and five rebounds. Guard Darren Collison added 18 points.

Danny Granger made his Clippers debut. The former Indiana Pacers forward had one rebound in four minutes.

For the Suns, forward P.J. Tucker had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Gerald Green scored 17 points but was just 6 of 19 from the field.

The Clippers held Suns guard Goran Dragic to 14 points. He added nine assists.

The Suns killed themselves by making just 11 of 19 free throws.

The Suns shut down the Clippers’ offense late in the first quarter, enabling them to take off on a 16-2 run that turned an early 22-14 deficit into a 30-24 lead early in the second quarter.

Then, in the closing minutes of the first half, the Suns took off on a 13-5 run for a 55-44 halftime lead. Dragic was a highlight reel during that span, nailing a 3-pointer before stealing a pass from Barnes and taking off for a fast-break layup.

But Barnes his a trio of 3-pointers to bring the Clippers back to within 63-60 midway through the third quarter.

With the Suns leading 69-68, Griffin hit a short jumper and then a turnaround banker. That propelled the Clippers on a 13-2 run for an 81-71 lead near the end of the third quarter.

The Clippers ran the lead to 15 at 90-75 before the Suns battled back one final time. Green hit two 3-pointers and a two-pointer that bounced high, around the rim and in to cut the Los Angeles lead to 97-94 with 2:37 left. But Griffin hit a banker and the Clippers coasted home.

Leandro Barbosa, the backup Suns’ off guard, suffered a left-hand fracture. He has been in and out of the Suns’ rotation with injuries since his return to the team.

Clippers guard-forward Jared Dudley came out in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a back problem. The Clippers already were down two off guards, Jamal Crawford and J.J. Reddick. Crawford could return at any time, but Reddick could be out for an extended time.

NOTES: F Danny Granger made his Clippers debut. Granger might be a stranger to the team’s playbook, “but if you throw an offensive guy the ball, he should know how to score,” coach Doc Rivers said. … C Alex Len, the No. 5 pick in the draft, made his first start for the Suns in place of C Miles Plumlee, who seems to have hit a wall. During his rookie season for the Indiana Pacers, Plumlee played 55 minutes. He has played more than 1,500 minutes for the Suns. … Clippers G Jamal Crawford remains out with a calf injury, but he is expected back in a game or two. Los Angeles G J.J. Reddick also is out due to multiple injuries, and the Clippers are unsure when he will return. … Suns G Goran Dragic began the night shooting 51 percent from the floor, including 41 percent on 3-pointers. The only Phoenix players who went 50/40 during an entire season among players who have qualified for the league leader board were Steve Nash (six times) and Jeff Hornacek (three times).