Clippers dominate Suns to even series
Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Elton Brand dominated the paint and finished
with 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Clippers past the
Phoenix Suns, 122-97, in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal set at
US Airways Center.
Sam Cassell dropped in 23 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out six
assists for the Clippers, who rebounded from their 130-123 setback in Game 1
and evened the series at a game apiece.
“We had to slow the pace down,” said Cassell. “We tried to get a great shot
every time down the court and about 90 percent of the time we did get a good
shot. We stayed together and stayed poised and made it tough for them.”
Cuttino Mobley recorded 23 points and pulled down eight boards, while Chris
Kaman had 14 points and 16 rebounds for Los Angeles.
Raja Bell netted 20 points for the Suns, who lost for the first time in their
last five playoff games. Steve Nash, the league’s reigning MVP, was held to
just 14 points and eight assists by the Clippers.
“We did not play with much energy tonight,” Nash said. “When you don’t have
that spirit about you, it makes it tough. They played harder than we did and
we have to find a way to correct that.”
Leandro Barbosa tallied 18 points off the bench while Tim Thomas added 15
points and Boris Diaw deposited 14 for Phoenix.
Los Angeles dominated Phoenix from the outset and used its overwhelming
superiority on the backboards to run away with the game. The Clippers pulled
down 57 rebounds to just 26 for the smaller Suns. The Clippers had an
astonishing 19-5 advantage on the offensive boards and scored 30 second-chance
points to just six for Phoenix.
“We just didn’t have the energy necessary,” said Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni.
“Give them credit. They did a great job but we will regroup.”
Game 3 in the series is scheduled to be played on Friday at the Staples Center
in Los Angeles.
Cassell came out of the gates on fire and hit his first three shots as Los
Angeles built up a 20-6 advantage. The Clippers continued to play frontrunner
and extended their lead to 16 points, 38-22, by the end of the first quarter.
Los Angeles shot a gaudy 55 percent in the frame and the playoff-tested
Cassell seemed to be in the middle of everything with 13 points in the stanza.
The Clippers went up by 20 points, 42-22, after Mobley and Corey Maggette
opened the second quarter with back-to-back buckets.
The Suns finally answered Los Angeles’ opening salvo with a 9-0 run to get
back in the game. Barbosa’s three-point play capped the flurry and made it a
42-31 game with a little over nine minutes to go until halftime.
Los Angeles regained its footing, however, and finished the half strongly.
Shaun Livingston’s spinning lay-in with 0.7 ticks left in the frame put the
Clippers up 65-51 at intermission.
The Clippers continued to play well early in the third quarter. Mobley’s three
from deep in the right corner put Los Angeles back on top by 20 points again,
83-63, with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the stanza.
Less than a minute later, a pair of free throws by Quinton Ross gave Los
Angeles its largest lead of the quarter, 86-65. The Clippers finished the
frame strongly and led 98-79 entering the fourth quarter.
The Suns had no answer in the final frame as Los Angeles continued to
cruise. About 2 1/2 minutes into the quarter, the Clippers posted Mobley on
the blocks and the guard deftly sunk a turnaround jumper to give Los Angeles
a 104-81 edge.
The closest Phoenix came the rest of the way was 17 points, 106-89, on a
Thomas trey with 7:18 left.
The deficit was just too large to overcome and the Clippers easily raced
to the finish line.
The Suns are 0-4 in the playoffs when they don’t score 100 points…Mobley’s
23 points tied a career playoff-high…The Suns led for only 21 seconds in
the game…Ross and Vladimir Radmanovic also reached double figures for
the Clippers with 11 and 10 points, respectively…Shawn Marion had 13
points for Phoenix…The Clippers shot 54.4 percent on the night while
Phoenix made just 45.6 percent of its attempts…This is the first time
that these clubs have met in the postseason.