Big rally against Suns keeps Clippers in playoff hunt

The awakening for the Clippers arrived in the fourth quarter and it came in a blitz on both ends of the court.

They were most impressive on defense, clamping down on the Phoenix Suns in an unrelenting way that served as the Clippers’ guide to a 111-99 win Wednesday night in front of 17,005 at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

It was as if the Clippers were a blockage on defense, not yielding a point to the Suns in the fourth quarter until there were 6 minutes 23 seconds to play.

The byproduct of that was the Clippers running by the Suns on offense, scoring 18 consecutive points to build a 103-82 lead.


“That’s when we’re at our best is when we’re focused on our defense and getting stops and getting out in transition and running and scoring,” said center DeAndre Jordan, who watched it all unfold from the bench in the fourth quarter because he wasn’t needed anymore. “It shows that when we play defense and we get stops that we are a lot better.”

Tobias Harris helped the Clippers’ cause with a game-high 27 points.

By playing the kind of defense that held the Suns to 23.5% shooting in the fourth quarter, the Clippers won their third consecutive game and kept themselves in position to for a playoff spot.

The Clippers are still in ninth place in the Western Conference, but they are only one game behind the eighth-place Utah Jazz for the last postseason berth.

“Of course everybody is caught into that right now,” Austin Rivers, who had 18 points and eight assists, said about scoreboard watching. “I think teams that aren’t even in the race are caught up in it right now because they just want to see. So we’re watching. We know who lost tonight. We know who won tonight. We’re not caught up in it, but we’re definitely keeping an eye on it.”

With a basket in the first quarter, Jordan scored his 7,000th point in his 10-year career with the Clippers, making him the eighth player in franchise history to accomplish that feat. Jordan joined Randy Smith, Bob McAdoo, Danny Manning, Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul as the other Clippers to reach that milestone.

Jordan, who had 13 points, 15 rebounds and four assists, has 7,011 points.

“I had no idea about the points and all,” Jordan said. “It’s cool. That’s not why I’m out there, like, ‘Oh, I got to score every night to be effective.’ But it’s good. Obviously this year I’ve done a lot more scoring than in the past years.”

The Suns long ago began to look toward the future, losing games so they get a better draft pick in June.

They took another step toward a top pick when Devin Booker (right hand), Elfrid Payton (left knee), Alex Len (left ankle), T.J. Warren (left knee) and Brandon Knight (left knee) didn’t play because of injuries.

“They’re sitting out so many guys and obviously we don’t even sit ours out because they’re just hurt,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “But at the end of the day, that’s just on us to win and we have to figure it out and have to do it with your defense, and I thought we finally did it in the fourth quarter.”

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner