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Reply To: NBA • Monday Service Plays • 2/22/16

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Preview: Phoenix At L.A. Clippers

When: 10:30 PM ET, Monday, February 22, 2016
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Clippers can be satisfied with earning a split against the top two teams in the conference in the first two games after the All-Star break, though a pair of wins would have been better. The Clippers will try to bounce back when they take a step down in competition by hosting the lowly Phoenix Suns on Monday.

Los Angeles crushed the second-place San Antonio Spurs 105-86 on Thursday but had a late rally fall short in a 115-112 loss to the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors on Saturday. “We wanted to win the game so badly that we couldn’t win the game,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers told reporters after Saturday’s loss. “We were in the way of ourselves.” The Suns’ descent to the bottom of the Western Conference continued with their 11th straight loss on Sunday, though they were surprisingly competitive in the 118-111 final against the Spurs. Phoenix center Alex Len missed the first game after the All-Star break but looked plenty healthy while putting up 23 points and 13 rebounds in 24 minutes on Sunday.

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN Arizona (Phoenix), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)

ABOUT THE SUNS (14-42): Phoenix has only the Los Angeles Lakers keeping it off the floor in the Western Conference but is trying to make strides toward the future under interim coach Earl Watson. Len, 22, got the start in place of injured veteran Tyson Chandler (shoulder) on Sunday and looked strong alongside newly-acquired power forward Kris Humphries. Watson is using a wide rotation and gave 10 players at least 18 minutes of playing time on Sunday, led by forward P.J. Tucker’s 30 minutes.

ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (36-19): Los Angeles got blitzed at the start of Saturday’s game and needed a game-closing 13-0 run with all the reserves in the game to make the final score respectable. “Any top team, you’ve got to come out with the right mindset, the right spirit,” Clippers center DeAndre Jordan told reporters. “You can’t make game plan mistakes. We gave up a lot of points on things we went over.” Jeff Green, who was acquired from Memphis in front of Thursday’s trade deadline, made his team debut on Saturday and managed five points on 2-of-7 shooting in 20 minutes off the bench.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Jordan is averaging 18.8 rebounds in his last four games.

2. PG Phil Pressey made his Suns debut on Sunday and delivered six points and five assists in 28 minutes off the bench.

3. Phoenix snapped an eight-game losing streak in the series with a 118-104 home win over Los Angeles on Nov. 12.

PREDICTION: Clippers 112, Suns 98