Paul has triple-double, NBA-leading Suns top Clippers 106-89

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Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) drives past Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX – Chris Paul had a triple-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists to help the short-handed Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 106-89 on Thursday night.

The Suns became the first team in the NBA to win 30 games this season and moved a game ahead of Golden State for the best record in the NBA. They’ve won three straight and four of five.

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Cam Johnson added a career-high 24 points, and Jalen Smith — the second-year forward whose playing time has drastically increased recently because of the Suns’ COVID-19 issues — had another good game with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

The 36-year-old Paul had his 17th career triple double. The 13 rebounds were a career high in his 1,128th regular-season NBA game.

Devin Booker shot just 5 of 22 from the field and finished with 11 points. He was 0 of 7 on 3-pointers.

Suns coach Monty Williams said center Deandre Ayton, forward Jae Crowder and JaVale McGee have all cleared the league’s COVID-19 protocols, but were held out of the game as they work their way back into shape. Guard Landry Shamet is still in the protocol.

The Clippers dropped below .500 with the loss at 19-20 despite a season-high 26 points from former Suns forward Marcus Morris Sr. Reggie Jackson added 16. The Clippers were missing guards Luke Kennard and Xavier Moon, along with center Ivica Zubac, because of COVID-19 protocols.

The Suns led by 17 points midway through the third quarter, but the Clippers cut it to 73-66 in the next few minutes. The Suns took a 75-66 lead into the final quarter.

The Clippers pulled to 79-76 with 8:36 left when Amir Coffey converted a 3-point play after making a layup while being fouled. But the Suns responded with the next six points and slowly pulled away.

The Suns jumped out to a 56-40 halftime lead after outscoring the Clippers by 15 in the second quarter. Johnson led the Suns with 17 points before the break. Morris had 13 for the Clippers.


Suns: F Bismack Biyombo played his third game for the Suns and his first at home. The 11-year veteran was signed last week because the Suns were thin in the frontcourt. He finished with three rebounds in 13 minutes ... The Suns are 25-0 this season when leading after three quarters. ... The Suns had a season-high 63 rebounds.

Clippers: G Brandon Boston Jr. was back on the court after spending time in the COVID-19 protocol. ... L.A. shot just 3 of 18 (17%) from 3-point range in the first half.


Clippers: Host Memphis on Saturday.

Suns: Host Miami on Saturday night


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