Monday , May , 15 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Cassell, Clippers take Game 4 against Suns to even series

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Sam Cassell came up an assist short of a
triple-double, and drained a huge three-pointer with 27 seconds remaining
to lead a short-handed Los Angeles Clippers team past the Phoenix Suns,
114-107, in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal set at the
Staples Center.

“I was feeling it a little bit, and I was getting my opportunities,” said
Cassell. “With Shawn Marion on me, my space is kind of tight. Once I get a
smaller guy on me, its easier to get my shot off. Its all about match-ups,
Shawn is one of the best defenders in the league. Its not easy trying to
create a shot against his quickness. I was just trying to get my shot off as
fast as possible.”

Cassell poured in 28 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and dished out nine
assists for the Clippers, who evened the series at two with Game 5 scheduled
to be played in Phoenix on Tuesday.

Los Angeles toiled without the services of center Chris Kaman, who missed the
game with a banged up right shoulder.

The Clippers led by eight points at the outset of the final frame and
continued to hold Phoenix at arm’s length in the opening minutes of the
quarter. On top, 100-93, Los Angeles really put the pressure on the Suns with
back-to-back three-pointers from Vladimir Radmanovic and Cassell.

Cassell’s bomb, from deep in the right corner, put the Clippers up, 106-93,
with 5:54 left in the game.

The Suns desperately tried to climb back in the game and closed to within one
point with a 12-0 burst. Leandro Barbosa connected on a long three from the
right wing and followed that with a driving layup to make it 106-105 with 1:12
on the clock.

Elton Brand finally stopped the bleeding with a turnaround jumper from just
outside the lane to give the Clippers some breathing room, 108-105, with 55
ticks left.

After Tim Thomas came up empty on a three, Cassell busted his three with 27
seconds remaining, to put things away for Los Angeles, 111-105.

A pair of free throws by Cassell, with 13.3 ticks on the clock, sealed the
deal for the Clippers.

Brand finished the game with 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for
Los Angeles, while Corey Maggette had 18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

“We went with a bigger line-up all around and we hit the boards again,” said
Brand. “It’s given us a big rebound disparity and we knocked down shots when
we had to.”

Radmanovic and Cuttino Mobley also reached double figures for the Clippers
with 13 and 10 points, respectively.

“It was a close game for forty-eight minutes,” said Radmanovic. “We just
needed a little stretch where we could score and get some stops, and the best
way to do that is to get a turnover. I think we did a good job tonight. We’ll
have to keep up with the good work.”

Raja Bell tallied a playoff career-high 33 points for the Suns, who had won
five of their previous six playoff games. Boris Diaw recorded 21 points, seven
boards and eights assists for Phoenix, while Barbosa had 15 points off the
bench.

“I thought we played well,” said Suns coach Mike D’Antoni. “In the first, we
just didn’tt make shots. Cassell hit a big shot down the stretch, but we
still had a chance.”

The Clippers held the NBA’s reigning MVP, Steve Nash, to just eight points on
3-of-11 shooting.

“We double, triple-team him at times,” said Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy. “We
try not to triple-team him. Wed rather just double-team him but sometimes
hes just so good that he gets past the two guys and then the third guy comes
in and thats where he really hurts you. He finds guys and gets great looks
and with our rotations, we’re trying to get to people and get them off their
spots.”

The Suns roared out of the gate with nine of the game’s first 11 points but
the Clippers quickly settled in, weathered the early storm, and got back in
the game. Cassell’s three with a little under seven minutes to go in the
opening frame gave Los Angeles its first lead of the contest, 17-16.

The Clippers then finished the stanza strongly and took a 33-28 edge after the
first 12 minutes of action.

Los Angeles continued to play well in the second quarter and took its largest
lead of the half, 61-51, when Shaun Livingston buried a jumper as time expired
in the half.

The Clippers continued to play frontrunner in the third quarter. The Suns
managed to close to within seven, 65-58, after a pair of Nash free throws
early in the quarter, but that’s as close as Phoenix would make it in
the frame.

The Clippers took a 90-82 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.

Game Notes

The Suns were 10-of-36 from long range; the Clippers finished 5-for-16 from
beyond-the-arc…The Clippers dominated the boards with a 55-37
advantage…This is the first time that these clubs have met in the
postseason…The Suns have lost three of their last four Game 4s in the
postseason.

LAC PHO