Clippers pull to within a game of the Jazz for fourth in the West with win over Suns

The Clippers defeated the Phoenix Suns 124-118 on Thursday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

And that was the best thing that could be said about the Clippers’ uninspired effort against one of the NBA’s worst teams.

The Clippers were disjointed all game long, essentially winning because they are better than the Suns, who are bound for the lottery and have the third worst-record (22-54) in the NBA.

But don’t count Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford as part of the lethargic Clippers.

They were the reasons why L.A. won and the fifth-seeded Clippers pulled to within one game of the fourth-seeded Utah Jazz in the Western Conference.

Griffin scored 31 points on 12-for-19 shooting and made both of his three-point attempts. He also had seven rebounds.

Paul had 29 points and 10 assists and super sub Crawford had 19 points.

“I said on the bench like in the third quarter, I think, it would be great to blow everybody out, blow every team out that’s not making it to the playoffs,” Griffin said. “But at the end of the day, that’s not going to be the case all the time.

“And you have to be OK with that.

“You have to be OK grinding the game out. You have to be OK with making mistakes and correcting them and getting them right and winning a game down the stretch."

The Suns, losers of 10 in a row, made it hard for the Clippers right up to the end, even going to the Hack-A-Jordan with 2 minutes 26 seconds to play.

DeAndre Jordan stepped to the line and made one of two free throws for a 119-114 Clippers lead.

Then Griffin and Paul closed the game out for the Clippers, who were playing the second of back-to-back games.

Griffin made one of two free throws before he nailed a 19-foot jumper for a 122-116 Clippers lead.

But it wasn’t until Paul made an 18-foot jumper with 48 seconds left, making the score 124-116, that the Clippers were finally safe from themselves and the Suns.

The Clippers trailed, 35-31, after a first quarter in which the Suns made 60% of their shots.

The Clippers led at halftime, 67-59.

Their lead was 12 at the end of the third quarter before the Suns rallied and closed to within 93-92.

That’s the kind of game it was for the Clippers, who were outscored in the paint, 66-22.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 33 points, making 13 of 22 shots, and was among six Phoenix players who scored in double figures.

“They fought hard,” Paul said. “Devin was outstanding again.

“They hit a lot of tough shots and we just played in spurts ... and pulled it out.”

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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