CHRIS Paul took over down the stretch to help the Los Angeles Clippers put away the pesky Phoenix Suns, 124-118, on Thursday (Friday, Manila time) at the Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Clippers went on a 14-2 run near the end of the second quarter to create some separation heading into halftime, 67-59, after a tight battle in the first two quarters. They extended the lead to 12 in the third but the Suns closed the period with a 15-4 blitz to cut the gap to one, 93-92, into the fourth quarter.
After the Suns tied the game at 102, Chris Paul started taking over, scoring six in a 9-2 run to get the Clips back on top 111-104 midway through the period. Still, Phoenix refused to quit in getting within two, 114-112, after an 8-3 counter.
Paul again steadied the ship for the Clippers with a pair of free throws and two huge assists to Blake Griffin, the last one on a jumper that put them up 122-116, with 1:44 to go. Griffin also came up with a big steal that led to Paul sinking a dagger of a pull-up, giving the Clippers an eight-point cushion with only 48 seconds left.
Griffin had 31 points to lead the Clippers (46-31), winners of two straight games to stay just a game behind West fourth seed Utah Jazz. Paul ended up with a double-double of 29 markers and 10 assists, while Jamal Crawford fired 19 off the bench.
Devin Booker led all scorers with 33 points but was not enough to prevent the Suns (22-54) from losing 10 in a row. Marquese Chriss added 20 markers and Tyler Ulis had a double-double of 16 points and 13 assists.