Wednesday , Apr , 18 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Clippers beat Suns to stay alive in playoff race

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Elton Brand had 21 points and nine rebounds and
Tim Thomas added 18 points and eight boards, as the Los Angeles Clippers kept
their playoff hopes alive with a 103-99 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Jason Hart added 16 points and Quinton Ross had 15 points and seven rebounds
for the Clippers, who remain one game behind the eighth-seeded Golden State
Warriors for the final spot in the Western Conference. The Warriors blew out
the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

The Clippers and Warriors, who split the season series against each other, end
their regular seasons on Wednesday night. If the two teams end tied, the
Clippers get the final spot by virtue of having a better division record.

Corey Maggette tallied 13 points and had 11 boards and Sam Cassell added 11
points for Los Angeles, which hosts the Hornets in its finale. Golden State
plays at Portland.

“It was a must win game for us and we pulled it out,” Thomas said. “This is a
tough environment against a great team. Somehow, some way, we pulled it out.
It was a total team effort. We got one more game to see what’s going on, but
right now we have to just take care of our own business and hope that Portland
will help us out a little bit. We’ll see.”

Leandro Barbosa had 22 points and eight rebounds and Raja Bell tallied 17
points for the Suns, who finished their regular season with a 61-21 mark and
will be the second seed in the postseason.

“It was kind of a bummer but it’s over with and we have a day off; we’ll be
ready this weekend, who ever we’re playing,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said.
“The good thing is we played good defense, we just didn’t rebound the ball
yesterday and today, the second chance points just killed us.”

Boris Diaw added 17 points and Amare Stoudemire scored 16 for Phoenix, which
will either play the Lakers or Warriors in the first round.

Phoenix led by as many as five points early in the fourth quarter after
Barbosa drained a three-pointer for an 82-77 edge with 8 1/2 minutes to play.

The Clippers, though, scored the next eight points to take the lead for good.
Thomas’ three-pointer with 6 1/2 minutes to play broke a tie at 82 and capped
the surge.

Los Angeles later led by as many as five points and used a pair of Hart free
throws in the final seconds to help hold on. After Barbosa drew the Suns
within 99-97 courtesy of a three-pointer with 32 seconds left, the Clippers
milked the clock on the offensive end. Maggette missed a long jumper with 10
seconds remaining, but Thomas knocked the rebound out to Hart, who was then
fouled with 7.8 seconds left. He hit both free throws to ice the win.

Steve Nash had just six points, but dished out 12 assists for the Suns, who
trailed 21-20 after one quarter and 50-48 at halftime. Shawn Marion had 10
points for Phoenix, which led 73-71 going into the fourth quarter.

“I think this is potentially the best team I’ve ever been on,” Nash said. “But
potential is fool’s gold. We have to go out there and play with a lot of
passion, energy, and discipline, be smart; play together. If we do those
things we will have a chance to live up to our potential.”

Game Notes

Phoenix went 33-8 at home this season…These two teams split the four-game
season series…LA ended its road schedule with a 15-26 mark…The Clippers
won for just the second time in six trips to Phoenix.