Phoenix Suns Display Gritty Defensive Effort, Hold off Los Angeles Clippers

Ben Leibowitz@BenLeboCorrespondent IIIMarch 3, 2012

Photo Credit: AP/Matt York
Photo Credit: AP/Matt York

The Phoenix Suns squandered an 11-point third-quarter lead but defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 81-78 in an ugly, low-scoring affair.

Neither team could find their offense Friday night and it showed at halftime with a 35-32 Clippers lead.

Channing Frye continued his woeful shooting slump for the season, shooting 2-for-18 from the field, finishing with just six points.

Despite the cringe-worthy shooting numbers, Frye was able to contribute in a big way on the defensive end.

Frye spent the majority of his night defending Blake Griffin, who finished 6-for-19 shooting from the floor for 17 points. Griffin couldn't get into any sort of flow, and appeared frustrated by Frye and Markieff Morris defensively.

In addition to the stellar defensive effort, Frye grabbed 14 rebounds. Marcin Gortat had 14 boards of his own in the win.

Chris Paul, who was guarded by defensive stopper Grant Hill for the majority of the game, shot 6-for-15 and wasn't able to find any sort of offensive rhythm.

Those two defensive performances from Hill and Frye were enough for the Suns to pull out the victory.

When Steve Nash entered the game in the fourth quarter, he committed three crucial turnovers that almost flipped the game in the Clippers' favor. Nash finished the game with seven turnovers to go with six points and six assists.

On one of the final in-bound plays of the game, the Clippers' stifling defense prevented the ball from getting into Nash's hands.

However, the Suns were able to find him later in the possession to ice the game with free throws.

Nash was mugged by two Clippers defenders and after the inexplicable no-call from the referees, Nash managed to get the ball to Jared Dudley, who promptly sunk two clutch free throws to put the game away.

After yet another great defensive performance by Hill, who has taken on the responsibility of guarding the opposing team's best player, he should really get some recognition for the All-Defense team by season's end.

The Suns' next game is Sunday, March 4, against the Sacramento Kings at U.S. Airways Center.