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Clippers fight past Suns for eighth win in a row

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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LOS ANGELES — Blake Griffin said he frequently fought his older brother Taylor as a kid. Taylor Griffin used to knock him around on the basketball court, and Blake would often retaliate.

Blake Griffin responds differently now.

The Clippers forward scored 37 points and got into a fourth-quarter skirmish with Suns forward P.J. Tucker in Los Angeles’ 112-105 victory over Phoenix at Staples Center on Monday night.

Los Angeles won its eighth game in a row and beat the Suns for the second time in the past week. The Suns, who lost to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night, fell for the second time in as many nights.

Griffin and Tucker got into a scuffle with 5:28 left. The two got tangled up on the floor under the Clippers’ basket, and Tucker appeared to punch Griffin before players from both teams intervened. Tucker was ejected.

“When I was little and I would play my older brother and he was whipping me and I couldn’t do anything, I used to fight,” Griffin said. “I used to get mad, I used to grab him, I used to swing on him, I used to do all of this stuff.

“Now, it’s not really that frustrating. You just take it as another tactic and you move on. Sometimes that’s what it comes down to.”

Tucker didn’t want to talk about the incident.

“I’ve got nothing to say about it. I can’t,” said Tucker, who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. “Got ejected. That was it.”

Clippers point guard Chris Paul and coach Doc Rivers defended Griffin.

“He could have easily punched back and got to fighting, (but) he didn’t,” said Paul, who finished with 17 points and 11 assists. “I don’t know how he does it, but that’s pretty selfless of him. He could do that and (then) he’s suspended for a few games, and that hurts our team. It’s huge. He’s stronger than me.”

Rivers said, “Again, Blake gets hit as much as anybody in the league. I think we’ve all seen it, and it gets old. I think he’s doing the right thing, I really do. He puts his arms up because if he reacts the way some people say he should, then he gets thrown out, gets suspended and it hurts the team.

“So, I know it’s difficult for him, but he’s doing the right thing for the team.”

Griffin, who had six rebounds and six turnovers, fouled out with 3:23 remaining. He connected on 14 of 16 shots from the floor and nine of 10 free throws. He didn’t score in the fourth quarter.

The Clippers (45-20) led by as much as 25 before the Suns rallied late in the game.

The Suns (36-27) pulled within 109-105 after a layup by guard Goran Dragic with 32.5 seconds remaining, but Los Angeles forward Matt Barnes, who finished with 13 points, hit two free throws with 20.9 seconds left to seal the win for the Clippers.

Guard Darren Collison scored 20 points for the Clippers, while forward Danny Granger had his best game since joining Los Angeles as a free agent, scoring 14 points. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had 17 rebounds, three blocks and eight points.

Dragic led seven Phoenix players in double figures with 23 points, 20 of them in the second half. Forward Markieff Morris and guard Gerald Green scored 16 apiece.

The Clippers stormed to a 62-45 halftime lead behind Griffin, who scored 22 of his 29 first-half points in the first quarter. For the half, Griffin was 11-for-12 from the floor in only 17 minutes.

Griffin’s 22 points were the second-highest total in a first quarter by a Clipper. Randy Smith set the mark of 23 against the Boston Celtics on Oct. 20, 1973, and Baron Davis tied the record against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 29, 2010.

NOTES: Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who coached Suns G/F Gerald Green in Boston, said the sixth-year player is improving due to maturity. Green scored a career-high 41 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder last week. “He just needed time to grow up. That’s not meaning he was a bad guy. He was just young,” Rivers said. … Clippers G Jamal Crawford, who aggravated his strained left calf in Saturday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks, didn’t play Monday. Crawford, listed as day-to-day, also is expected to miss Wednesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. … Los Angeles G/F Jared Dudley missed his third straight game due to back spasms. … Phoenix G Eric Bledsoe, out since Jan. 10 after undergoing arthroscopy surgery on his right knee, is expected to return Wednesday when the Suns host the Cleveland Cavaliers. … Suns C Miles Plumlee returned after missing two games with a right knee sprain. … The game drew a sellout crowd of 19,226.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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