RAPID RECAP: The Suns lost the playoff opener 115-110 thanks to Kawhi Leonard’s monster game.

The Phoenix Suns started the game very slowly, but went on a 15-0 run in the third quarter to take a 77-68 lead.

But Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t allow it Los Angeles Clippers Go away was the best player on the floor all night. But in the end, Russell Westbrook made timely defensive plays to help the Clippers hold off the Suns in Phoenix.

The Clippers won, 115-110.

Kawhi Leonard scored 38 points in 42 big minutes. He shot over the tight defense and was amazing. The Clippers had 14 offensive rebounds and 10 extra shots, including some killer ones in the final minutes of the third and fourth quarters.

Kevin Durant had 27 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds for the Suns. Devin Booker added 26 points and 3 assists. Torrey Craig excelled in his role, adding 22 points and forcing Kawhi to take more difficult shots (which he did). Chris Paul missed 8 of 10 shots, but had 10 assists and 11 rebounds.

First half

The Suns got open threes on their first three possessions, missing all of them, but showing how they can get shots off against the Clippers defense. The corner and transition is one of the best to take three. Finally on their fourth possession, Paul Russell jammed Ayton over Westbrook and the fans were able to take a seat.

It should be noted that Durant spent the first few minutes on the wing, touching the ball once on a catch-and-shoot and once in transition.

The Clippers went 16-10 on 6-of-11 shooting, including 3-4 from three. The Clippers’ Eric Gordon started the game by making 4 of 10 shots for the Clippers’ 16 points. Meanwhile, the Suns made just 4 of 11 shots, although every shot was wide open. Like, wide open. Time’s up, sun.

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The Suns pulled back 20-17 on Devin Booker’s layup, and it shocked me that it was only the second of 18 shots taken. Everything else is a jumper — so of course you’re going to get some variation, and that explains the 7-for-19 shooting start. 2-2 within 3 feet. 5 for 17 beyond that.

When the Suns went down 30-18 after one quarter, there were a lot of ‘damn’ vibes about how this team could never recover from playoff woes and were down 35-19 before they started playing like a team. Work for success. There is no victory for anyone, guys.

The Suns outscored the Clippers 35-24 — not earth-shattering, but enough to pull the deficit to a manageable five points. 59-54 at halftime. Kevin Durant had 17 points in the second quarter.

Second half

The Suns opened the second half with more intent. Not with the energy they showed to come back to life in the last few minutes of the second quarter, but with more intent and focus than they started the game.

However, the Clippers held a slight lead over Russell Westbrook

With 7 minutes left in the third quarter, the Suns finally tied the game at 68-68, and Chris Paul took the lead on an offensive rebound to Torrey Craig for the go-ahead layup. Devin Booker is now up to 22 points and has made 5 of his last 6 shots. Craig is now up to 16 points on 7-10 shooting. He’s very good at it, and Kawhi Leonard is working hard to get his shots in single coverage.

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After Chris Paul made his own patented midi to put the Suns up 74-68 and force another Clippers timeout, Ayton’s midi extended the lead to 6. A Craig 3 put the Suns up 77-68 before Russell Westbrook capped the Suns on a 15-0 run.

Thanks to four missed free throws late in the third quarter (two by Lawndale, two by Booker), the Clippers pulled away. They tied the game at 79-79, forcing Durant to return to the court.

The Suns and Clippers were tied 81-81 after three.

Kawhi Leonard, who has played 32 of 36 minutes so far, opened the 4th with a one-and-one layup to give the Clippers an 84-81 lead. Durant tied it a minute later with a second-chance three. The Clippers scored the next two times to take an 88-84 lead.

Leonard finally sat down for the first time with 30 points and an 88-86 lead with 9:52 left in the third. He sat for 2.5 minutes but the Suns couldn’t take the lead. In fact, it was 95-92 Clippers when Kawhi checked in.

Despite Kevin Durant being generally incredible, the Suns were unable to take control of the game halfway through the fourth quarter. He nearly had a triple-double – 24 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds.

Chris Paul was just 2 of 6 from the field (although he had 8 assists and 9 rebounds). Only 3 out of 10 on the bench.

With 5:32 left in the 4th, the Suns cut it to 97-96.

Russell Westbrook got a behind-the-back block on Ayton, then punched it from Devin Booker on the Suns’ next two possessions, and the Clips used a three-point play to take a 100-96 lead. Torrey Craig responded with a three-point play off a Devin Booker steal to get back to 100-99.

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The Suns played some good defense to stop the Clippers from scoring, but they couldn’t get a shot off. Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton both missed the Open Mitty.

The Clippers then hit three straight threes to take a 109-103 lead with less than 1:30 left before Kevin Durant finally got a shot (Leonard had just 15 all night, compared to 23) and drained a three.

A pair of Chris Paul free throws pulled the Suns within 109-108 with 1:08 left.

But the Suns couldn’t get a defensive rebound on the next possession, giving LA three separate punts, each time bouncing out of bounds for the Suns. Now with 28.8 seconds left, Sun down one. And the Clippers still have the ball.

Westbrook, who missed 16 of 19 shots, made a pair of free throws with 17.7 seconds left and drained both. Because of course. 3 The sun sets with 17.7 seconds left. He then blocked Devin Booker on a drive that knocked it out of the Suns.


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