The Phoenix Suns bounced back to win Game 2 on Tuesday in the Western Conference Playoffs, beating the Clippers 123-109. The series is now tied 1-1 as the teams head to the Crypto.com Arena for Games 3 and 4.
Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook led the scoring for the Clippers; however, they desperately needed help from the role players who struggled to make shots, 15 of 44. Mason Plumlee scored a mere two points, and Nah’shon Hyland contributed six points, followed by Ivica Zubac with eight. Eric Gordon and Norman Powell with 12 points each, and Terance Mann contributed 10.
Leonard, the high scorer for the Clippers with 31 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and a more efficient Westbrook in Game 2, scored 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting, hitting all eight free throws with five rebounds and five assists.
The mistakes down the stretch prevented the Clippers from a potential 2-0 series lead. According to TNT analyst Stan Van Gundy, the Clippers failed to make crucial adjustments: Gundy repeatedly said that the Clippers continued to “play drop coverage against the pick-and-roll despite getting picked apart.”
The Clippers preferred to look ahead after their Game 2 loss. In the postgame interviews, Leonard and head coach Ty Lue talked about the position the team finds themselves in:
“We’re in a good place. We split on the road. Gotta go home and protect our home floor,” Leonard said.
Despite the loss, Lue believes his team has what it takes to win the series:
“We believe we can win this series,” Lue said. “I feel good. I feel good with where we’re at. Our guys are gonna keep competing and keep scrapping. We think we can win this series. That’s the biggest thing. One-hundred percent of the battle is believing.”
The Suns Devin Booker might have something to say about that. Game 2 belonged to Booker as he led the Suns with 38 points and nine assists. His teammate and future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant balled out with 25 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals, and one block. Phoenix made 58% of their shots.
“Book scored in a number of different ways. When he’s going like that, I think the team feeds off his high-level play,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.
The Suns Torrey Craig played a significant role in their victory, scoring 17 points and completing 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
“Craig made just about every big shot for us tonight,” Chris Paul said postgame. “It’s the timing of the shots. When a team got a chance to cut it from six to four or three (points), Craig would hit a three to put us up nine. It was the timing of the shots that he made. That’s big in this series.”
Deandre Ayton (14 points) and Chris Paul (16 points and eight assists) energy matched Booker as the team aggressively pursued the win.
Game 3 is Thursday in Los Angeles at the Crypto.com Arena.