After a pair of tight games to open the season, it is not expected to get any easier for the Phoenix Suns, who travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Sunday.
The Suns took a 107-105 revenge victory from the Dallas Mavericks in their season opener Wednesday but fell 113-111 on the road in overtime to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
The Suns’ Devin Booker has averaged 30.5 points to open the season, while Chris Paul has had a measured start on the scoring end with eight points per game. Meanwhile, his ball distribution skills have shown up with 10.5 assists per game.
Despite the loss Friday, the 10 points and 12 assists from Paul was a good sign after he was on the bench late in the opener as Cameron Payne ran the offense down the stretch. Booker finished with a team-leading 33 points.
“Overall, I think it’s good for us. We have a lot to learn from,” Booker said. “We’ve been in two close late-game situations to start the season. … I think we need to get better in both wins and losses. Just take it with a grain of salt, regroup, watch what we need to work on and go from there.”
Booker did have a chance to beat the Trail Blazers in regulation, but his 3-point attempt with 8.7 seconds remaining was off target, leaving the game tied at 102-all.
“There were a few bounces that didn’t go our way (and) I don’t think our guys did anything wrong,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. “… We had our chances to win, it was just one of those nip-and-tuck games.”
The Suns were outscored 27-23 in the fourth quarter Friday after they outscored the Mavericks 31-24 in the fourth quarter Wednesday and 62-43 in the second half.
The Suns’ Landry Shamet (hip) is listed as probable to make his season debut, while Johnson (hip) is questionable. Shamet played 78 games with the Clippers and was last with the team in 2019-20.
The Clippers will enter their first official home game after a 111-109 victory on the road against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. Los Angeles played without veterans Kawhi Leonard and John Wall, who were out for rest on the first night of the back-to-back.
After missing all of last season because of a knee injury, Leonard scored 14 points off the bench Thursday in a 103-97 season-opening victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, who were the home team in the battle of L.A.
On Saturday, Paul George scored 40 points as the Clippers rallied from a 55-52 deficit at halftime. Los Angeles took control by outscoring the Kings 34-25 in the third quarter.
“We thought we were doing a good job defensively (in the first half), we were just giving up second-chance points, giving up a lot of offensive bounds,” George said on the Bally Sports SoCal broadcast. “I think we eliminated that, we rebounded the ball a little better in the second half, we got out on the run, created offense on our own and we were able to push (into) the lead.”
–Field Level Media