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Suns bring the attitude, take away 93-90 win against Clippers

L.A. has a five-game winning streak come to a halt, drops a game behind the Lakers for third in the West and now sits 1 1/2 games ahead of the Grizzlies in fourth.

April 19, 2012|By Broderick Turner

PHOENIX — The Clippers were more irate about the physical attack on Blake Griffin by Suns reserve center Robin Lopez than they were about their 93-90 loss to Phoenix Thursday night at US Airways Center.

The Clippers were upset by the flagrant two foul called on Lopez for his neck-tying of Griffin in the fourth quarter than they were by having their five-game winning streak ended.

The Clippers were more angry about the strained neck Griffin suffered because of the play that got Lopez ejected than they were about not being able to execute late in the game.

"You can push all the way up to that line. The line is pretty fine," Griffin said after scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. "Once it gets crossed, it becomes real dangerous, I guess. But that's the way it's been going."

The play in question began when Mo Williams threw a pass to Griffin on the fastbreak. Lopez chased Griffin down and hooked the Clippers forward around his neck, pushing him to the court with 6:14 left in the fourth quarter.

Williams and Nick Young went after Lopez, Williams getting called for a technical foul.

Lopez was thrown out of the game.

"I don't know what he said," Williams said about Lopez. "I was mad about the whole thing. It just don't make sense. You're on the break and you want to stop it, beat him down the court and put your body in front of him. And if he runs down the court and beats you and you can't get to him, you can't get to him."

Griffin was asked if he felt Lopez crossed that line.

He paused before answering the question.

Griffin had missed a potential game-tying three-pointer as time expired, another sore point for him.

"I'll let every individual be the judge of that," Griffin said. "I know what I felt and I know what the impact of the play was."

Despite all that, the Clippers still had a chance to win.

Williams shot a three-pointer that went in and out, leaving the Clippers down, 91-90.

Griffin fouled Channing Frye as they went for the rebound, and Frye made two free throws for the final margin with 2.0 seconds left.

Neither team played with passion in the early going. Even though the Suns shot just 38.6% from the field in the first half, they held a 46-45 lead at halftime.

The Suns just 28.6% of their three-point attempts (four-for-14) from the field in the first half.

But they outrebounded the Clippers in the first half, 29-24. The Suns had 11 offensive rebounds, giving them second-chance opportunities.

Griffin led the Clippers with 14 first-half points, all of them coming in the first quarter.

Chris Paul had 19 points and 10 assists for the game, but he was just six for 19 from the field.

He has a sore right thumb that he said was injured in the first quarter of the Denver game Wednesday night.

"I couldn't feel the ball," Paul said. "I popped it out of the socket."

The Clippers dropped one game behind the third-place Lakers in the Western Conference playoff race and are 11/2 games ahead of fifth-place Memphis.

The Clippers also have lost 10 straight games on the road to the Suns, last winning in Phoenix April 17, 2007.

None of that mattered to the Clippers.

They are tired of Griffin getting beat up by opponents.

"[Suns Coach] Alvin Gentry told me to tell Blake that they don't stand for that," Paul said. "I don't know what Lopez was thinking. I actually went to the ref and asked if they could keep him in the game rather than not get ejected.? He didn't want to get dunked on so he decided to do something crazy."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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