Tuesday , May , 16 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Clippers, Suns battle in pivotal Game 5

(Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns play the
pivotal Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinals series tonight at US
Airways Center.

This best-of-seven set is tied at 2-2. Game 6 of this series is scheduled to
be played on Thursday at the Staples Center.

In Game 4, Sam Cassell came up an assist short of a triple-double, and drained
a huge three-pointer with 27 seconds remaining to lead the sixth-seeded
Clippers team past No. 2 Phoenix, 114-107, in Game 4 at the Staples Center.

Cassell poured in 28 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and dished out nine
assists in Game 4’s win for the Clippers, while All-Star Elton Brand finished
the game with 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Corey Maggette had
18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds in the victory.

Raja Bell tallied a playoff career-high 33 points in the loss for the Suns,
while Boris Diaw recorded 21 points, seven boards and eights assists for
Phoenix. Leandro Barbosa netted 15 off the bench.

The Suns have won two of their last three Game 5s in the postseason, while
the Clippers have lost two of their last three Game 5s.

This is the first time that these clubs have met in the postseason.

The Clippers, who defeated the third-seeded Denver Nuggets in five games in
the first round, returned to the playoffs for the first time since the
1996-97 campaign, when they were swept in the opening round by the Utah Jazz,
3-0. In fact, the Clippers, who were the Buffalo Braves until the 1978-79
campaign, were eliminated in the opening round in 1992, 1993 and 1997.

The Braves, who became the San Diego Clippers after the 1977-78 season,
defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 2-1 in the first round of the 1975-76
playoffs. They have won two playoff series in franchise history.

For the first time in franchise history, the Suns came back from a 3-1 deficit
to win a playoff series in the opening round against the Lakers. They won
their second straight Pacific Division title crown during the regular season.

Last season, the Suns finished a league-best 62-20 during the regular
campaign. Phoenix had a solid run in the 2005 playoffs, as it advanced
to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1993, but was
eliminated in five games by the San Antonio Spurs, who defeated the Detroit
Pistons in seven games in the championship round.