Phoenix 127, L.A. Clippers 107
PHOENIX, May 22 (Ticker) --
The Phoenix Suns have some obvious
shortcomings. But in Game 7s, they have been virtually
Directed by MVP Steve Nash
, the Suns tied a team playoff-record with
15 3-pointers and won their second Game 7 of the postseason,
returning to the Western Conference finals with a 127-107
victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
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Nash had 29 points and 11 assists for the second-seeded Suns,
who have been pushed to the limit in each of their first two
series but have emerged with convincing closing wins on their
home floor. They will face the fourth-seeded Dallas Mavericks,
who host Game 1 on Wednesday.
In the first round, Phoenix became the ninth team in history to
erase a 3-1 deficit and win a series, roaring to a 121-90 win
over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7. This one was not as
overwhelming but just as effective.
"These guys have risen to the occasion every step of the way
this year," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni
said. "With Amare(Stoudemire)
going down, with Game 7, overtime games. It
has been wild. But there has never been one time where that
locker room hasn't been solid and everybody together. We have
had our ups and downs but resilience is the heart of
Often overpowered on the interior in this series, the Suns
stayed true to their style and fired early and often from the
arc. They attempted 27 3-pointers, with six players making at
least one. Meanwhile, the Clippers were 0-of-4 from the arc.
"For us, we don't shoot them if we aren't making them," Clippers
coach Mike Dunleavy
said. "We really didn't have any great
looks. Our game is to get the ball in the paint and finish that
way. When they can shoot the 3-pointer like the way they shot
tonight, who can beat them? They get on a roll shooting the
three, and in a one-game series, they can be unbeatable."
Overall, Phoenix shot a sizzling 60 percent (48-of-80), which
may have been the result of fresh legs. After playing 13 games
in 25 days, the Suns had three days off between Games 6 and
Nash certainly appeared refreshed. Having looked tired at times
in this series, he piloted the offense with precision, making
11-of-16 shots, including 4-of-5 from long range.
"I had time to work on some things I was struggling with," Nash
said. "I got a chance to overcome some physical problems and I
did feel better. If I didn't get a chance to work on some of my
ailments, I probably wouldn't have played the way I did."
made five 3-pointers and scored 30 points and
sank two and added 18 for the Suns, who never
trailed after the first two minutes and led by double digits for
the last 15 minutes.
"We weren't ready to go fishing yet," Marion said. "We got into
the third quarter and the first five minutes we opened the game
up and never looked back. The rest helped. Our legs were there
and everybody was knocking down threes. I think we had a little
"The biggest thing is we wish they didn't get any rest,"
Clippers forward Corey Maggette
said. "They came out blazing.
The MVP played extremely well and Marion (was) shooting the
3-pointer. He hadn't been hitting any and tonight he had a
used seven players and all seven scored in double
figures. Tim Thomas
scored 16 points, Boris Diaw
added 14 and
and James Jones
"We came out sharing the ball," Bell said. "Steve was committed
to really take over the game. He led us and we followed."
Los Angeles forward Elton Brand
again was unstoppable, scoring
36 points on 16-of-26 shooting. Maggette added 18 points and
fellow reserve Shaun Livingston
14 for the Clippers, who saw
their best season in franchise history end on a sour note.
"It was a coming-out party for myself and teammates," Brand
said. "We played well, we surprised some teams and we are only
going to get better. We have a lot of young guys on the team
and we are going to improve."
Ending a nine-year playoff drought, the Clippers won a
best-of-seven series for the first time and came within one win
of their first trip to the conference finals.
"We hurt right now but we feel good about what we accomplished.
We know we have done a lot of good things," Dunleavy said. "We
reached a lot of our goals on the season. Our first goal was a
big deal. Nobody believed we could get into the playoffs. The
second was getting home court. The third was winning a series."
"I'm proud of my guys in this locker," Clippers guard
said. "No one thought we could get this far. We lost.
It's definitely devastating. But this team can hold their heads
up high and walk around the city of Los Angeles with some
The Suns erased an early 4-0 hole with an 18-6 run that featured
three 3-pointers. The Clippers rallied for a 28-28 tie, but
Jones made two free throws and Barbosa added a bucket to close
the first quarter and give Phoenix the lead for good.
Nash and Marion made 3-pointers to push the lead to 63-53 late
in the first half. A pair of 3-pointers by Barbosa fueled a
12-4 surge to cap the third quarter and extend the advantage to