When it was over and the Clippers had just barely survived a short-handed and struggling Suns team at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Monday night, L.A. left the court feeling content with its 123-119 overtime victory.
“We won. That’s all you need to do,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
“Like on the road, I’ve always said the road games are hard. This [Suns] team has played a lot of teams tight and close. They did it again tonight.”
The Clippers (17-9) were facing a Suns team with the worst record in the NBA (now 4-23).
The Suns were already missing top scorer Devin Booker (strained left hamstring) and Jamal Crawford (sore left knee) when T.J. Warren was ejected after getting two technical fouls in the second quarter.
The Clippers lost their top reserve, Lou Williams, late in the second quarter because of a sore left hamstring. Williams gingerly headed to the locker room with head athletic trainer Jasen Powell and did not return.
“I don’t know when I’ll be back,” Williams said after the game. “We’ll see.”
The Clippers were getting all they could handle from the Suns, who were not backing down with rookies Deandre Ayton (20 points, 12 rebounds) and Mikal Bridges (19 points) leading the way.
But they fought back after falling behind by nine points with 7:09 left in the game, by eight with 4:18 remaining, and even when the score was tied 119-119 in the overtime.
They relied on the work of forwards Tobias Harris (33 points, eight rebounds) and Danilo Gallinari (25 points) and rookie point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to pull them through.
“Every NBA game you play, you don’t have to look at the record of the other teams,” said Gallinari, who has played a lot of center against the Suns.
“Every team is an NBA team so every night is tough to win basketball games and you got to find a way to win it. It was an ugly one to finish that way, but we needed to get a win.”
Patrick Beverley made two free throws with 33.3 seconds left in overtime to give the Clippers a 121-119 lead.
On the Suns’ following possession, Harris appeared to have snared the rebound of a missed shot by Suns rookie De’Anthony Melton, who had sent the game to overtime with a jumper. But during a scramble for the ball while on the floor, the referees called a jump ball.
Rivers was on the court trying to get a timeout called to no avail.
Harris won the jump ball against Troy Daniels, tipping it down the court. Avery Bradley ran the ball down, was fouled by Ayton, and made two free throws for the final score.