PHOENIX, May 8 (Ticker) -- The outside attack of the Phoenix Suns
overwhelmed the inside presence of Elton Brand.
Steve Nash directed a potent offense that drained 12 3-pointers
to offset 40 points by Brand and lift the Suns to a 130-123
victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of the Western
NBA TV highlights from Clippers-Suns:
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Nash had 31 points and 12 assists and Shawn Marion added 20 and
15 rebounds for the second-seeded Suns, who shot 55 percent
(47-of-86) from the field and had six players in double figures.
Phoenix scored a staggering 74 points in the second half and
pulled away late for its fourth straight postseason win by
hitting threes and being able to penetrate. It hosts Game 2 on
"Scoring 74 points in the second half will give us a nice chance
to win most games," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We weren't
sharp mentally in the second quarter but our guys found a way to
bounce back. We hit big shots. We hit big threes and we
outscored them in the paint."
The highest-scoring game of the playoffs thus far saw an
explosion by Brand, who made 18-of-22 shots, most of them on
short jumpers after overpowering the smallish Suns in the post.
The All-Star forward added nine rebounds and four blocks.
"Personally, I had a great game but we didn't close it out,"
Brand said. "They are a hot team and they were hitting all their
shots. We do have to control the tempo better. We can't have
any lows or any mistakes against this team. To get the tempo in
our favor we really need to limit our quick shots. That is their
game plan. It can't be fools gold."
A dunk by Brand pulled the sixth-seeded Clippers into a 101-101
tie with 8:33 to play. He was given a rest for less than two
minutes, but that was enough as the Suns pounced with a 19-6
Boris Diaw triggered the surge with consecutive baskets and
Leandro Barbosa, Raja Bell and Nash sank 3-pointers to build the
lead to 120-107 with 2:56 remaining. Phoenix led by at least
six points thereafter.
"The tempo wasn't exactly what we needed," Clippers coach
Mike Dunleavy said. "Offensively in the second half, we didn't have
the intensity. We executed and put up shots but they made their
threes. We shot a high percentage but they were controlling the
Phoenix made 12-of-27 shots from the arc while Los Angeles made
4-of-12 - three of them coming in the final two-plus minutes.
Bell made four 3-pointers, Nash had three and Barbosa and
Tim Thomas two apiece. The Suns also outscored the Clippers in the
The Suns were pretty good from the straight line, too. They sank
their first 20 free throws and finished 24-of-25 from the
stripe, with the only miss coming from Nash, the team leader.
Bell scored 22 points, Diaw added 19 and Barbosa 17 for the
"That is how we play and we have been playing like that all
season," Diaw said. "We are a three-point shooting team so we
just have to keep it up."
After receiving his MVP trophy from Commissioner David Stern
before the game, Nash sparked the Suns to an early 23-12 lead.
However, the Clippers closed the first quarter with a 13-6 surge
that featured three straight buckets by Brand.
"We are getting better. I think we are getting more balance,"
Nash said. "Our offensive is playing with the tempo, confidence
and rhythm we need to. It must be a difficult loss for Elton
Brand. He was phenomenal. I thought he was trying to get them to
change the MVP at halftime."
A jumper and 3-pointer by Thomas rebuilt the lead to 54-45 with
4:09 remaining before the Clippers again closed in strong
fashion with a 16-2 burst, taking a 61-56 lead into halftime as
Brand made three more hoops.
A seesaw third quarter saw Phoenix start with a 12-4 spurt,
Cassell sink four straight shots in a 13-2 run that allowed Los
Angeles to rebuild a 78-70 lead and Bell drain a 3-pointer to
give the Suns a 93-91 edge entering the final period.