Suns win a war and kill Clippers

Phoenix prevails in a very tough game, full of inaccuracies and that was decided on the final free throws. Los Angeles, for the first time, do not match the series.


It was much more than a match. It was a prophecy, almost a curse for the Los Angeles Clippers rivals. The meeting was reached with 2-1 on the counter and, if an Angelina victory was consummated, the deeds dictated sentence for the Suns. It should be seen, but the Arizonans have avoided finding out. The 3-1 is his, with sweat ... and practically blood. Because, finally, they have emerged victorious from Los Angeles, but after a new war, after a new encounter decided in an eternal last quarter and between successes and errors in free throws. Those of Tyronn Lue, like zombies during the first half, once again displayed their resilience, in a way of clinging to the series, to survival, that has rarely been seen. The third quarter (30-19) gave them their infinite life, the one they no longer had, the one they lost in a last quarter worthy of the match. Bad, very bad, if you talk in basketball terms (14-15); but extremely exciting, full of tension and grit. With 76 to 79 on the scoreboard with one minute to go, the penalty line was going to dictate sentence. It was attended by Paul George and Chris Paul. The first, with three hits in four attempts; the second, with five in six. And DeMarcus Cousins also came, starring in an action difficult to understand. With 79 to 81 on the electronic and 5.6 seconds, he scored the first and, by the way, as he had to do, the second failed; but not in the way it should. Stone on the board and, with it, the end of the resurrection (80-84). George, with his only mistake in those final shots, was missing the opportunity to leave the score with a point with 3 seconds left; but the agony had already met its end. There was no new opportunity.

The match, itself, was a constant sum of errors that simply found a suitable fate: in the mud and with dirty hands, both for the winner and the loser. The Clippers came out with the intention of repeating the ritual, but the Suns did better, with Chris Paul at the helm. The locals, engulfed by an exhausting initial rhythm, did not score their second basket until 7:40 minutes to go to the end of the first quarter: George, from the perimeter, wanting to be a hero again (5-14). He finished with great numbers, 23 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists, showing his face in Kawhi's absence, but the end, again, was unfair to him. In short: a lot of rhythm, a lot of tension, little success and, therefore, few points. The first quarter made it clear: verbal confrontations ... and not so verbal. Jae Crowder, Patrick Beverly, etc. The most prone to it started, but they all signed up, with two techniques practically in a row. The first, to George, after slapping a Booker who was looking to meet glances; the second, to Cameron Payne, who, after several robbery attempts by Terance Mann (12 + 4), scrambled to get rid of his presence. Devin, in the fourth quarter, returned the message to George and this, taking advantage of one of the free throws, left the score at 70-71 with 10 minutes left. In between, a world of things, but with an unequivocal: very hard game, with a lot of contact. One of those in which you have to sweat each basket, a quarter of Conference Finals with, in addition, a certain mysticism in its value.The perfect habitat for Booker, whose mask nevertheless seemed perfect for the occasion: in the end, it wasn't. In fact, the game did not end: neither he, nor the mask. Before, yes, he had left 25 points, a treasure, today, with many carats of value. The trash-talking was his and the success, with several beautifully made bombs, too. When it comes to scoring, he's always been a boy-faced killer - under the new outfit, he couldn't fool anyone. Contrast with what happened between the rival lines: a lot of foreign mistakes, a certain stubbornness with him and, in addition, the impossibility of changing the plan. DeAndre Ayton was stopping you, lord and master of painting. The meeting had opened with a 2 + 1 of his and, far from being something temporary, it was beginning to reveal something structural: the small ball can contribute from certain watchtowers, but not from his. Paul, with experience and quality, sniffed the hole and exploited it to, with an alley oop to his giant, put the maximum difference (26-39) so far.The animal of a thousand lives

At rest, the distance widened (36-50). The reasons were far from any mystery. Those of Lue marched towards the changing rooms with a 29.5% success in field shots and 18.2 from long distance. Mission impossible for anyone: even for them. Ayton, for his part, was leaving almost double-double: 15 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, also placed at the right moment, when the Angelenos tried to explore other avenues, their path. In the zone, there was only room for one king, and he certified him with monstrous double digits at the end of the match: 19 + 22. Zubac (13 + 14) stood up, but stayed away. The Suns added 42 points in the paint to 36 for the Clippers and became strong in the second chances, with 13 for 7. Phoenix's plan ended up coming out, but by the hair. Speed on the open track and forceful inside. Formula as traditional as it is effective. At least until the break.

So the seriousness of the matter, for the Clippers, was of historic magnitude. The Angelenos' 36 points were their lowest score in one half in finals history, and their 18 errors on the 3-pointer equaled their worst record of all time. After the break, they left with the necessary attitude to remedy it, because, despite everything, the difference was not excessively wide. Above, a name, one already very recurrent in these parts: Reggie Jackson (20 + 5). From his 10.7 points in the regular season he has gone to 17.6; today, with two triples, he drew a completely different map (63-65). Faced with the prospect, Booker even took off his mask. The Clippers, at that time, had a double fight: one against themselves and their mistake and the other, against Paul (18 + 4 + 7). After his absence due to the entry into the Covid protocols, his memory could be blurred, but the reality is that, as the matches progress, his weight in them advances: it is a proportion as direct as it is dangerous for rivals. Lead, score, and even enjoy. After passing the ball between his legs, from back to front, he finished a few minutes of high flight (46-59); but Jackson, suddenly, had clipped his wings. Who was flying, now, was the party, looking for where to land.

It cost him. When the middle of the last quarter was reached, the scoreboard only welcomed six new points (70-71). The Clippers, in almost four minutes, had been unable to get ahead on the scoreboard with a single point difference (they did not get it in the whole game) and the Suns, with another alley oop from Paul for Ayton, punished him. 16 shots had been missed in a row and Booker had even received a blow to his broken nose: a perfect metaphor for a hit game, without success, but enveloping in its tension. And in the middle of it it had to be resolved. A minute from the end, and with 74-79 on the scoreboard, Lue called for Challenge after a Jackson foul on Booker, already with five infractions on top. It left him without free throws and the Suns star was eliminated. The umpteenth life for the Angelenos, who were resurrected again, but not for the last time. After a powerful rebound from Ayton, 30 seconds from the end and with 76-79 on the scoreboard, a new review granted the ball to the Clippers, with Paul George and Mikal Bridges (6 + 13) as possible protagonists of that last contact With the ball. The Los Angeles star immediately went to the free throw line. On this first trip, she did not fail, but the next to go to her, Chris Paul, neither. It was the thousand and one, the life of more than the Clippers, and George, they no longer had. In case there was any doubt, Cousins took it from him altogether. New scenario for the Angelenos in these playoffs, closer to hell than ever: in the last 40 years, only the Warriors, in 2016, have been able to overcome a 3-1 against.

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