Griffin's worst shooting performance of the season came against Phoenix earlier this month, so it was inevitable that he'd bounce back. His full offensive repertoire was on display on Thursday night -- spin moves, alley-oops and up-and-unders -- and he was surprisingly engaged on defense. When his jump shot is falling, there's almost no way to stop him. Unfortunately, he also picked up his eighth technical foul of the season.
In a rare late-game error, Paul spun into two Sun defenders and was stripped by Sebastian Telfair with just more than 30 seconds remaining. Besides that one blemish, Paul enjoyed a near triple-double in which he toyed with Telfair & Co. and got to wherever he wanted to on the floor. He didn't play aggressive enough offensively, as shown by his single free throw attempt, but he was much better than the night before.
After being almost nonexistent over the past few weeks, Butler returned to form and looked like the third best Clipper. He facilitated off the dribble, finished at the rim and spaced the floor with his elite shooting range. The key with Butler is confidence. On Thursday night, he was involved in the offense early and made open shots, allowing the rest of his game to develop easier, including his defense.
The Clippers can't close games. They eked out a few bloodbaths in the first half of the season, but as of late, they haven't been able to win any game that's gone down to the wire. Their fourth-quarter performance was embarrassing -- they couldn't put together a coherent offensive possession nor get a much-needed stop. It doesn't matter who they add to the roster, if they can't close they won't win.
Phoenix came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the NBA and, despite sitting Steve Nash and Grant Hill, the Suns looked the part against the Clippers. They trailed nearly the entire game, but hung around long enough to turn their depth and offensive balance into a victory. No one is talking about the Suns, but they're quietly creeping up the standings and look like a potential eight-seed.