PHOENIX — They talked about their intense defense in the second half, about how Matt Barnes' big third quarter carried the Clippers, about DeAndre Jordan's big block in the fourth when the game hung in the balance and about Blake Griffin's clutch shot.
When the Clippers added all that up, they had walked away with a 104-96 victory over the stubborn Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night at US Airways Center.
After giving up 55 points in the first half, the Clippers held Phoenix to 41 points in the second half.
“We played with intensity,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “And we had great focus in the second half.”
No one more than Barnes, whose all-around play helped the Clippers tie a season high with their fifth consecutive victory.
He scored a season-high 28 points, 18 in the third quarter. He was 12 for 17 from the field, four for seven from three-point range.
Barnes also had six rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot.
Jordan produced another double-double with 10 points and 17 rebounds to go along with two blocked shots.
Griffin had 22 points, five rebounds and six assists.
“It was just a good team win,” Rivers said.
It was the play of Barnes in the third quarter that turned the momentum around. Barnes scored 16 of the Clippers' first 20 points in the third. He made all seven of his field goal attempts and all four of his three-pointers in the third.
At one point, the Clippers trailed the Suns, 61-49, in the third.
But the Clippers outscored the Suns, 32-12, the rest of the way to open an 81-73 lead entering the fourth, in large part because of Barnes' aggressive play.
“We just wanted to come out here with energy,” Barnes said. “I got a few open looks that went down. It was just one of those things where me being aggressive on offense opened up things for everybody.”
When Jared Dudley drove hard for a layup, the Clippers had a 15-point lead in the fourth, their biggest of the game.
But Dudley went to the locker room during a timeout with 8 minutes 45 seconds left because of back spasms and didn't return to the game.
The Clippers' lead was whittled down to 97-94 after the Suns' Gerald Green made three consecutive three-pointers and a runner in the lane.
Griffin scored on a turnaround bank shot for a 99-94 Clippers lead. Then it came down to defense.
Griffin switched onto Suns guard Goran Dragic, who blew by the Clippers forward toward the basket.
But Jordan was there for the block, which he also retrieved while being fouled.
“At first I was just trying to go over there and alter it,” Jordan said. “But I ended up being able to get a hand on it.”
Even more important, Jordan made both free throws, giving the Clippers a 101-94 lead with 39.5 seconds left.
“That was big for us,” Jordan said. “That's what I'm supposed to do.”
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