|Date of game: 3/10/2014
Phoenix Suns (36-26) at Los Angeles Clippers (44-20), 10:30 p.m. (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) - Only three games separate the Los Angeles Clippers from the top spot in the Western Conference and they'll try to move closer Monday versus the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center.
The Clippers are fourth in the conference standings and have ripped off a season-high seven straight wins, scoring 100 or more points in each of those. They are first in the NBA in scoring with 107.8 points and opened a three-game homestand with Saturday's 109-108 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Blake Griffin provided the go-ahead layup in the final minute to help the Clippers survive a scare from the Hawks, who had a chance at the end but Jeff Teague made just 1-of-2 from the foul line. Teague missed the first attempt with 1.2 seconds left and sank the second after trying to miss.
"We got a win and that's all that matters," said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. "I didn't like our execution late in the game. I don't like turnovers period. A lot of them were unforced. I'm happy with the win, but you could see early we didn't have it."
Griffin scored 27 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists, and has scored 20 or more points in the last 22 games, averaging 27.4 ppg in that time. Griffin needs 11 rebounds for 3,000 in his career and will become the third player all-time to reach 6,000 points, 3,000 boards and 1,000 assists before the end of his fourth season while shooting 50 percent or better.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Charles Barkley are the other players.
Chris Paul had 19 points and handed out 10 assists in the win over Atlanta. Matt Barnes scored 17 points and is averaging 11.1 ppg in his last 22 games -- all starts. DeAndre Jordan ended with 13 points and 12 rebounds for Los Angeles, which is 26-5 at home and will close the stay Wednesday versus Golden State.
A Clippers win over Phoenix would match the third-longest winning streak in franchise history. On the injury front, top reserve Jamal Crawford (calf) is expected to miss the game and is averaging 18.7 ppg.
L.A. is 26-11 against the West this season and 16-3 at home against conference opponents.
Meanwhile, the Suns are even with Memphis for the eighth spot in the West and sit three games off the sixth seed. They had won three of four games until dropping a 113-107 decision at Golden State on Sunday, as Gerald Green and Goran Dragic scored 25 and 24 points, respectively.
Channing Frye had 16 points for the Suns, who were outplayed in the third quarter by a 38-17 score and fell to 14-14 on the road.
"We just have to be tougher," said Green, who is averaging 29.0 ppg in his last four games. "We have to grind it out. Every game isn't going to be an easy game for us. Every game isn't going to be smooth sailing. We just have to figure out to withstand leads and hold them."
The Suns are near the top in scoring this season with 105.5 ppg, but have allowed opponents to reach the century mark in scoring over the past eight games. Phoenix is giving up 102.9 ppg and that means trouble against a Clippers team that thrives off running up the score and playing fast.
After Phoenix visits the Clippers, it will welcome Cleveland to the desert on Wednesday. The Suns and Clippers have split two meetings this season and will meet again April 2 in Arizona.