Phoenix 125, L.A. Clippers 118 (2OT)
PHOENIX, May 16 (Ticker)
-- Shawn Marion
had enough hop in his step to
move the Phoenix Suns a step away from the conference finals.
Marion scored six of his 36 points in the second overtime and
added 20 rebounds as the Suns outlasted the Los Angeles
Clippers, 125-118, to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference
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In yet another thrilling overtime postseason game, the
second-seeded Suns moved within one win of a return trip to the
NBA's penultimate round. They blew a 19-point second-half lead
and were rescued by Raja Bell
, who drained a tying 3-pointer
with 1.1 seconds to play in the first overtime.
"Raja just brought us out of the depths. We just kept battling
and found a way," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni
said. "So many
guys gutted it out. We weren't brilliant but a lot of times in
the playoffs, it is not about being pretty and making all the
right plays. It is about heart, perseverance and a little
sweat. We did that."
Matched up against the bigger Elton Brand
for most of the game,
Marion did most of the work inside for the Suns. He made
16-of-33 shots and helped Phoenix fight on the backboards.
And with most players nearing exhaustion in the second overtime,
Marion still had a reserve of energy. He opened the period
with two free throws - Phoenix's first made foul shots since the
second quarter - and added a flying follow dunk to give the
Suns the lead for good at 115-113 with 3:20 remaining.
Marion appeared to hurt his ankle on the play but returned
shortly thereafter. After a three-point play by Brand pulled
the Clippers within 119-118 with 1:22 to go, Marion took a nifty
pass from Steve Nash
and made a running bank shot at the 1:05
The sixth-seeded Clippers never scored again as Leandro Barbosa
and Nash each sank two foul shots to seal it.
"In that second overtime, we hit some tough shots," Marion said.
"Everybody was being aggressive and active on both ends of the
floor. It is not about me. We go out there and help each other
out and we have each other's backs."
With Game 6 in Los Angeles on Thursday, the Clippers were one
stop from going home with a 3-2 lead after a turnover by Nash
led to two free throws by Sam Cassell
that opened a 111-108 lead
with 3.6 seconds left in OT.
Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy
inserted little-used rookie
. Bell bolted to the left corner, took the inbounds
pass and buried the tying shot, bringing a roar from the crowd
at the US Airways Center.
"The first play the coach drew up at the end of the first
overtime, they took away the passing lanes so (D'Antoni) drew up
another play," Bell said. "I just caught it and shot it. There
wasn't enough time to do anything else or think about it but it
felt good when it left my hand. I'm not one of those guys who
ask for the ball or anything but when they drew it up for me, I
was excited and thought I was going to hit it."
"I was very surprised we didn't foul but we had a young guy in
the game," Cassell said. "It is not Daniel Ewing's fault that
Raja made the shot but we have to know better. We had a foul
to give. We should have put Raja Bell in the fifth row."
scored 25 points, Bell added 22 and Nash 17 and 13
assists for the Suns, who shot 46 percent (49-of-107), including
11-of-29 from the arc. Thomas and Bell made five 3-pointers
"We rely on a lot of jump shots, but at the same time we tried
to get down in the post and try and get them fouls," Thomas
said. "But with Steve, he's our penetrator and we try to feed
off that and we started getting some good shots."
Brand had 33 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks and Cassell
scored 32 points for the Clippers, who shot 41 percent
(42-of-103) but made 9-of-20 3-pointers.
"We had a chance to go home with a lead of 3-2," said Los
Angeles reserve forward Vladimir Radmanovic
, who made 4-of-7
shots from the arc en route to 13 points. "Now we have our
backs against the wall. There is no retreat anymore. We have
to give whatever we have to win that game (Thursday) because you
know what's coming if you don't win."
Part of the game's excitement was in the mistakes. At the end
of the fourth quarter, Brand and Marion each missed two free
throws, Cassell was whistled for an eight-second violation and
Thomas neglected to call a timeout.
In the first overtime, Nash threw away a pair of passes in the
final minute and Clippers guard Shaun Livingston
threw away an
inbounds pass. In the second OT, Livingston stepped out of
bounds on a drive.
"The game could have been lost 100 million times tonight,"
Dunleavy said. "We fought back but we made a lot of different
mistakes. That eight-second call on us, that was my fault as I
wasn't paying attention."
The Clippers withstood some early energy by the Suns and - with
center Chris Kaman
, who missed Game 4, back in the paint -
asserted themselves on the boards and opened a 31-26 lead after
In the second quarter, the Suns scored 32 points - eclipsing 30
for just the second time since Game 1 - and opened a 58-52
halftime lead. A 13-1 run fueled by six points from Marion gave
Phoenix its largest lead at 76-57 with 6:56 left in the third
It also was LA's largest deficit of the postseason, which
Cassell wasted no time erasing. He scored the last 10 points on
a 19-6 surge that closed the quarter and pulled the Clippers
A 3-pointer by Bell gave Phoenix a 101-96 lead with 3:30 left in
regulation, but Brand made two free throws and Cassell drained
his third 3-pointer of the fourth quarter to tie it with 39
"It was a golden opportunity for us and we just didn't take
advantage of it," Cassell said. "It would be easier to go home
up 3-2 instead of down 3-2, but there's no need to cry over
spilled milk. Game 6 is coming in LA and we're looking
forward to it. It's that simple."