PHOENIX, May 10 (Ticker) -- Elton Brand and Chris Kaman behaved like
bullies as the Los Angeles Clippers pushed around the Phoenix
Suns, who seemed too tired to push back.
Brand and Kaman dominated the paint and the Clippers overwhelmed
the Suns with a 122-97 trouncing that knotted their Western
Conference semifinal series at one game each.
NBA TV highlights from Clippers-Suns:
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Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley scored 23 points apiece for the
sixth-seeded Clippers, who abandoned the idea of trying to keep
pace with the running, gunning Suns and instead flexed their
muscles and wrested away home-court advantage.
"Our bigs were the ones who won the boards," Clippers coach
Mike Dunleavy said. "We have a size advantage down there and as
long as we keep our bigs close to the boards, that is what is
supposed to happen."
Sparked by Cassell, the Clippers raced to a 20-6 lead in the
first six minutes and never looked back. They led by double
digits for all but 26 seconds thereafter and their largest lead
was the final score.
"One of the coaches told me today that they needed me to come
out aggressive," Cassell said. "So I was looking for my shot
early and once I came out aggressive, this team has a knack to
follow my lead. I had some opportunities to score early as
compared to Game One, where I was playing more of a playmaker."
Los Angeles maintained its big lead by going inside to its big
men. Brand and Kaman - who was neutralized by the quick pace of
Game 1 - led an interior assault that had Phoenix physically
intimidated, particularly in the first half.
"I wasn't myself the other day. I wasn't aggressive," Kaman
said. "Tonight, we outrebounded them big-time. We stayed on
the boards. They had a lot of missed shots and we got putbacks.
We pounded it inside, made our shots and did our best to stay
in front of them."
Before the break, the Clippers seemed to score on virtually
every possession. They held a 36-14 advantage in rebounds -
grabbing 15 offensive boards - and a staggering 24-2 edge in
Scoring and boarding almost at will, Brand and Kaman combined
for 21 points and 16 rebounds in the first half, helping the
Clippers maintain a 65-51 lead.
"We didn't know what to expect," Brand said. "We didn't know we
would be that dominant and shut them down like that. A lot of
second-chance points, points in the paint. The big men had to
step up and we knew we had a shot. We still had to hold them at
the perimeter and have them shoot jump shots. Then we would
have an advantage at the post."
It was more of the same in the third quarter as Los Angeles made
its first five shots and quickly built the lead to 74-54. Even
defensive specialist Quinton Ross got in the act with seven of
his 11 points in the period.
Meanwhile, Phoenix went the entire middle two quarters without
an offensive rebound. Overall, the Suns were manhandled on the
glass, 57-26, and outscored, 31-6, in second-chance points.
After winning the last three games of their first-round series
against the Lakers and having to rally to win a shootout in the
opener against the Clippers, the Suns seemed mentally and
"I don't think it is any secret. I don't think we had any energy
and we didn't give it any effort," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni
said. "Second-half points just didn't happen. It is size,
obviously. To negate that, to not get killed, we have to have
second effort. We just have to be more active in the next game
and I will be surprised if we don't."
Brand totaled 27 points and 10 rebounds and Kaman added 14 and
16 for the Clippers, who shot 54 percent (49-of-90).
Vladimir Radmanovic added 10 points and nine boards.
"We wanted to show with a big game and let them know that this
series was going to be a tough one," Dunleavy said. "The team
that loses the first two games loses 94.6 percent of the time,
so it was big that we got the win and we knew that. Our energy,
aggressive defense was really there tonight. Now we know we
can't relax. Our job is to hold court at home now and that will
not be an easy task."
"They beat us on energy and hustle," Bell said. "Offensive
rebounds and second-chance points speak for themselves. We had
an emotional letdown. Not that that is an excuse but they
caught us on our heels. We weren't ready to go. We lost the
home court but the positive is, we have done it before. We know
what it takes to bounce back from that."