Suns Bounce Back, Hold Off Clippers
Phoenix 112, L.A. Clippers 102
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 18 (Ticker) -- Steve Nash was not a factor Tuesday, when the Phoenix Suns suffered their worst loss of the season. That was not the case one night later.
Nash collected 18 points and 18 assists as the Pacific Division-leading Suns rebounded from Tuesday's 29-point loss by posting a 112-102 victory over the second-place Los Angeles Clippers.
"We showed a lot of toughness to come back from last night's game," Nash said. "We showed a lot of determination to not let that game carry over in tonight's game."
Barbosa capped the burst on a driving layup with 10:44 left in the first half to give Phoenix a 37-24 lead it never relinquished. The Brazilian swingman scored 21 points in his third game back from a left knee sprain that cost him 24 games.
"I feel a lot more comfortable than last year and the year before," Barbosa said. "The guys and the coach have been helping me a lot. Steve Nash always makes everyone comfortable on the court. I think this is very important for everybody."
"They really hurt us in that second quarter," Clippers star Elton Brand said. "We kind of played their tempo a little bit. You've got to make shots against this team so they have to take the ball out of bounds so they can't outrun us."
The Suns took a 67-48 advantage into the break and claimed their largest lead when Nash buried a 3-pointer that made it 72-51 with 9:59 left in the third period. Phoenix made 42 percent (11-of-26) of its shots from the arc.
"We try to take what they give us," Nash said. "A lot of times when we get in the paint they are going to leave our 3-point shooters alone. We have confidence that over the course of the game and the season we're going to win most of those."
Los Angeles trailed by 16 points at the start of the fourth period but opened with a 14-4 burst capped by rookie Daniel Ewing 's shot from the arc - Los Angeles' only 3-pointer - to make it 100-94 with 7:18 to go. Cuttino Mobley seemed to trim the deficit with a layup but was whistled for an offensive foul. Nash responded with a three-point play with 5:51 left that made it 103-94, and Phoenix maintained control thereafter.
"I thought the defender did a little bit of a flop," said Mobley, who scored just four points on 1-of-9 shooting. "I jump-stopped. That play was huge as it would have put us down only (four). That's my job to score and that is why I didn't say anything to the official. There were some bad calls but it just wasn't my day."
Shawn Marion collected 30 points and 17 rebounds for the Suns (25-13), who won for the 10th time in their last 13 contests.
"We came out here tonight really focused," Marion said. "Last night we were back on our heels and we weren't ready to play and they whipped us good. Tonight, we came out ready and got a win against a good team."
Sam Cassell scored 27 points and Brand added 19 for the Clippers (20-15), who fell 3 1/2 games behind the Suns.
"It wasn't good enough," Cassell said of his scoring output. "We had to come out strong right from the beginning. We didn't and then Cuttino got in foul trouble. We weren't out of sync. We just weren't making shots."