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C&R: SUNS VS. CLIPS EDITION

It's Now or Never for Suns, Clips
Posted by By Brad Friedman on May 22, 2006 1:41 p.m. ET

Game 7. It's for all the marbles. Like the TNT guys say, "win or go home."

Nothing focuses athletes like a Game 7.
-- [Arizona Republic]

The Suns and Clippers meet tonight in the deciding game of their Western Conference semifinals matchup in Phoenix. How will it compare to the all-time best Game 7s?
-- [ESPN.com]

Historically, teams with home-court advantage in Game 7 have won 81.7 percent of series.

And even though Clippers guard Sam Cassell says his team has their work cut out for them, he also stresses they need to relax.
-- [L.A. Times]

Writes the L.A. Daily News, "the Clippers and Suns have had 10 meetings in the regular season and playoffs. Neither team has won two in a row against the other. That flip-flopping of victories has made for an unpredictable series. Just when one team looks to have momentum, that team gets stopped."
-- [L.A. Daily News]

STATE OF THE CLIPPERS

Elton Brand's excited that nowadays "everyone is talking about the Clippers."
-- [The Charlotte Observer]

Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy isn't ready to celebrate just yet. Although he thinks it's great how far his team has advanced given the preseason expectations, their Western Conference semifinals appearance is "not that big of a moment until we win it."
-- [L.A. Daily News]

STATE OF THE SUNS

The Arizona Republic reports Kurt Thomas may see spot duty in Monday's action if his foot feels good enough to play.
-- [Arizona Republic]

"It feels good," he told the paper. "We'll see how it feels (today). Just got to see how the foot responds."

Thomas missed much of the regular season and all of the playoffs because of the foot injury.

Suns forward Shawn Marion has certainly stepped up in his place.

After one 30-point game in his first 43 playoff games, Marion has three in the past 10 days.

"He's in a category by himself," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni told the Arizona Republic. "We ask him to do so many things and his production has been unbelievable."

Three-Day Weekend
Posted by By Rob Peterson on May 19, 2006 1:45 p.m. ET

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Wow! I can't wait for Game 7 of the Suns-Clippers. What a great, great series!

Well, guess what suckas, you will need to wait. Game 7 is Monday in Phoenix on TNT. That's three days, 72 hours or 15 Britney-baby mishaps from now.

That also gives you plenty of time to call your cable operator if need be, right Sam?

"It's going to be a dogfight on Monday," Cassell said. "It's going to be a great basketball game, so if you don't have cable television, you better get it right away."

And let me tell you, after the Clippers' convincing 118-106 win in Game 6 at STAPLES, the Suns need the rest. Wait, let Steve Nash tell you:

"For some reason, we lacked energy. I don't know if it's all the games we have played or if collectively we didn't have the foresight or the energy to play as effectively as we can defensively."
-- [Arizona Republic]

To which Mike Dunleavy replied: Waaahhh!
-- [Arizona Republic]

Elton Brand

... is good.
-- [LA. Times reg. req'd]

We knew that. Others are now finding out.

Quinton Ross?

Quinton Ross!
-- [LA. Times reg. req'd]

Welcome Back...

... Corey Maggette, especially after T.J. Seimers put in a good word for you.
-- [LA. Times reg. req'd]

And You Are?

Who are these guys again?
-- [LA. Daily News]

Where You At?

Tim Thomas.
-- [NBA.com]

Chris Kaman...

... doesn't like needles.
-- [LA. Daily News]

Michael Wilbon...

... continues to document his growing fascination with the Clippers.
-- [Washington Post reg. req'd]

A Sterling Story

Great anecdote about the Clippers owner at entry No. 2.
-- [SI.com]

How Do You Like It? How Do You Like It?
Posted by By Rob Peterson on May 18, 2006 1:45 p.m. ET

More, more, more!
-- [Washington Post, reg. req'd]

Come for the hoops, says Michael Wilbon, stay (up late) for the fantastic finishes. Wilbon says Suns-Clippers deserves to go seven.

This stellar series has everyone's attention, including the dean of NBA writers, SI's Jack McCallum.
-- [SI.com]

A Kid No More

Raja Bell's being noticed. We kid you not.
-- [Arizona Republic]

Is It Hot in Here?

Mike Dunleavy's getting roasted.
-- [LA. Times reg. req'd]

And of course, if the Clippers win the next two games, people will toast him.

Then again, EB has Dunleavy's back.
-- [LA. Times reg. req'd]

Meanwhile, Elton is our pick in Drive to the Finals.
-- [NBA.com]

Partly Cloudy

Phoenix is up 3-2, but their energy may be waning.
-- [N.Y. Times reg. req'd]

And Steve Nash is hurt.
-- [Arizona Republic]

"I'm going to feel better one of these days."

Yikes. If the Suns do advance to the Conference Finals, that doesn't bode well for the immediate future.

The Wind Beneath Their Wings

Is it still there for the Clippers?
-- [LA. Times reg. req'd]

Elgin Baylor

He's No. 1!
-- [The Sporting News]

What We've Got Here ...
Posted by By Rob Peterson on May 17, 2006 2:30 p.m. ET

Fans of the movie Cool Hand Luke would readily offer the second half of the quote: "... is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach."

Clippers fans must have felt the same way as the members of the chain gang as they watched the Clippers, in the role of Luke, get whacked upside the head in Game 5. Because what the Clippers got here -- in the final two overtimes of their 125-118 loss to the Suns in a classic double-OT Game 5 of the Western Conference Semis -- was a failure to deviate. And communicate.

For the final 10 minutes, the Clippers threw out the rest of their playbook and went to something called "4 Ice." You can tell what the play is just by the nomenclature -- "4", as in the power forward position, and in this case Elton Brand, and "Ice," as in isolation.

Like an endless loop, Sam Cassell would dribble to the left wing, Brand would park himself on the left block while Vladimir Radmonovic would stand at the right wing, Shaun Livingston would park himself on the right block and Cuttino Mobley in the right corner. Cassell would either fire off a quick three or feed Brand in the post.

One Eastern Conference scout said Clippers' coach Mike Dunleavy loves to put the ball into the hands of his scorers.

"He believes in the last minutes of the game, that you get the ball to the guys who score the most. In this case, it was a shooter and a guy in the post. When [Dunleavy] sets up like that, he forces the opposing team to double-team, and out of the double, they can pass out of the double-team from the post, or drive and kick it out. If you're forced to double team Elton in the low post, then on the weak side, you have two guys covering three."

Lather, rinse, repeat. It worked well enough to push the game into a second OT, where the Suns easily figured out what was going on and used their athleticism to smother the Clippers.

Dunleavy defended his rotation, or lack thereof: "I stayed with the group that got me there."
-- [LA. Daily News]

(Then again, Dunleavy couldn't care less what I think ... which, on the whole, is smart.)
-- [LA. Times reg. req'd]

The stick-to-itiveness of this philosophy would have been fine, of course, had Raja Bell not drained one of the most cold-blooded and confident threes in Playoffs history: "I told you guys I was going to make it!"
-- [Arizona Republic]

And as far as failure to communicate? Well, the Clippers were still trying to figure out why no one fouled Bell when they had a foul to give.
-- [Overtime]

Then again, the Suns may not have been close had it not been for the mesmerizing Matrix.
-- [Arizona Republic]

(Our report also discounts that the Clippers came all the way back from a 19-point hole, and that there were so many boneheaded plays to end regulation: an eight-second call and a too-quick three by Cassell, two Nash turnovers, and Tim Thomas' failure to call a timeout with three seconds left. What a game!)

According to our scout, the Clippers need to do one thing to stay alive:

"Mike's gotta get them to slow down. Phoenix will sucker you into taking quick shots just so they can get the ball back. That's how the Suns maintain their pace. And sometimes, Sam plays right into that. If someone scores on him, he thinks he needs to run down the court to score on his guy. Watch for that."

OK, we will.

I Own the Only Marques Johnson Clippers' Throwback Ever Made...

Every team has its fanatics, and L.A.'s red, white and true blue are no different.

What did they think of the Clippers in OT? The obsessives at Clipperblog.com tracked the proceedings. So did the dudes at TheBasketballJones.com.
-- [Clipperblog.com, TheBasketballJones]

Plays Anatomy

This guy says the Suns had more heart.
-- [Arizona Republic]

Steve Nash, however, says he has no legs.
-- [Arizona Republic]

Meanwhile, J.A. Adande says success doesn't stick to the Clippers' ribs.
-- [LA. Times reg. req'd]

(We hope no fairweather L.A. fan breaks his ankles jumping off the Clippers Nation bandwagon before it stops).

A Few Good Fans

What the heck was Jack Nicholson doing in Phoenix?
-- [LA. Times reg. req'd]

Seems that James Brooks, who creates pop culture icons as easily as you breathe (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi, Terms of Endearment, The Simpsons and As Good As It Gets), is a huge Clippers fan. And Brooks and Jack are tight.

"'He got me two Oscars, so whatever he wants,' said Nicholson, who won under Brooks' tutelage for 'Terms of Endearment' and 'As Good As It Gets.'"

A Classic?

You bet.
-- [SI.com]

The Numbers Game
Posted by By Rob Peterson on May 16, 2006 Noon ET

Let's see how the numbers break down for tonight's game (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), shall we?

Five for Game 5

Looks like Captain Ka-ve-man! will be in the lineup tonight.
-- [CBS Sportsline.com]

Stop the 4

In order to slow down the Clippers, the Suns feel the need to contain Elton Brand. Easier said than done.
-- [L.A. Times reg. req'd]

Three ...

... it's the magic number (for the Suns).
-- [Arizona Republic]

Two...

That's the magic number for the Clippers, who continue to double team Steve Nash.
-- [LA. Daily News]

One...

.. team still hasn't taken charge.
-- [L.A. Times reg. req'd]

From the Things You Never Knew File ...

The Clippers were once owned by a Nabisco exec dubbed "The Cookie Monster."
-- [L.A. Times reg. req'd]

You Know You've Hit the Big Time When ...

... an important e-zine such as Slate features your work.
-- [Slate; dime by Clipperblog.com]

The Last Boy Scout

Always be prepared.
-- [Arizona Republic]

And Finally ...

The Internet collapses on itself as one blog (this one) points to another blog (this one).
-- [SI.com]

Ooh, La La, Whatta Series
Posted by By Rob Peterson on May 15, 2006 3:45 p.m. ET

Is it the Clippers' joie de vivre? Or maybe the Clippers' win in Game 4, and the whole season has been more c'est la vie kind of thing.
-- [LA. Daily News]

Then again, I could be wrong. I took Spanish in high school. Maybe we should ask Boris Diaw. He's French.

Whatever it is, even with the series tied 2-2 and heading back to Phoenix on Tuesday (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT), the Clippers feel blessed. Or cocky. (We're all about choices today, people. Either that or indecision. You decide.)
-- [LA. Daily News]

Want Fries With That?

Sam Cassell has been awesome. Or, as this columnist notes: Sam-I-Am has been better than a Royale with Cheese.
-- [LA. Daily News, reg req'd; LA. Daily News]

Bad Taste

Steve Nash hasn't been awesome. As a matter of fact, the MVP has been getting his lunch handed to him. And even he doesn't know why.
-- [Arizona Republic]

Then again, Raja Bell had a great game.
-- [Arizona Republic]

Who's Driving This Clippers Band Wagon?

Elton Brand. Since this is sports, someone went for the pun: "Brand Wagon."
-- [LA. Daily News]

Rebounding

Who's doing it? The Clippers are, the Suns ... not so much.
-- [Arizona Republic]

And to think, the Clippers did it without Captain Ka-ve-man!
-- [LA. Daily News]

Something You Don't See Everyday...

... Charley Rosen handing out compliments.
-- [FOXSports.com]

Back to STAPLES
Posted by By Rob Peterson on May 12, 2006 1:15 p.m. ET

Welcome back to L.A., home of swimmin' pools, movie stars ...

Uh, scratch that movie stars comment.
-- [L.A. Times reg. req'd]

Anyway, Los Angeles is now home to a 1-1 Western Conference Semifinals series between the Phoenix Suns and the L.A. Clippers.

After trouncing the Lakers in Game 7, the Suns knew they'd be back.
-- [L.A. Times reg. req'd]

Meanwhile, Mark Hiesler writes that these are heady times for Clippers' fans.

"You've heard of "The Day of the Locust"? This is The Day of the Clipper.

The Clippers didn't get to play the Lakers, but this is still the series they've waited for their entire careers. They're playing and the Lakers are watching on TV, those who haven't thrown something through their sets."

Somehow, I can't imagine Lakers fans ever being that angry.

De-fense! De-fense!

One team has it, one team says it needs more energy.
-- [L.A. Times reg. req'd, Arizona Republic]

Thank goodness this Sun still has energy.
-- [Astronomy Today]

Rubbish

Seems that the teams have taken out the trash talk.
-- [L.A. Daily News]

Well, except for maybe Chris Kaman. And it's not really trash, it's more of a backhanded compliment.

"The dirtiest guy they probably have is Raja Bell, and he's not dirty at all," Kaman said. "He just plays real hard and flops."

Nice.

Magic Laughs, Lauds

L.A. a Clippers' town? Bwahahaha! But Magic Johnson likes the Clippers' style.
-- [L.A. Times reg. req'd]

Dumb

But funny.
-- [The Association]

They Love L.A.
Posted by By Rob Peterson on May 11, 2006 3:45 p.m. ET

The fans at Clipperblog.com lovingly go over the details from Game 2.
-- [Clipperblog.com]

Board to Death
Posted by By Rob Peterson on May 11, 2006 12:45 p.m. ET

Well, that was impressive.
-- [NBA.com]

Clippers fans, Check out those rebounding stats. Suns fans, shield your eyes. The Clippers had 19 offensive boards -- 19! The Clippers turned that into 31 second-chance points -- 31! They also shot .544 from the field --.544!

(Why am I using so many exclamation points? Why?!)

Maybe I feel the need to punctuate this Click as much as the Clippers punctuated their Game 2 win on Wednesday.
-- [LA Times reg. req'd]

Like we said, impressive.

True (Hoop) Dat

The always good Henry Abbott references ESPN.com's John Hollinger in his Clippers-Suns entry on True Hoop.

And while Abbott notes that Hollinger notes the only thing the Clippers did better was rebound (Really?), Abbott mentions that the Suns could use a guy who's fishing right now: Stephen Hunter.

Also, a hat tip to Abbott for linking to Paul Coro's blog, which noted that if Kurt Thomas comes back, he's going to need to be better than Tim Thomas (no relation) and Boris Diaw (also no relation).
-- [Arizona Republic]

Every Rosen Has His Thorns

One of these days, I'd like to determine which NBA columnist is more acidic: New York Post's Pete Vecsey or FOXSports.com's Charley Rosen. Maybe one of these days they could write about each other.

But until then, Rosen said the Clippers did all the right things in Game 2, especially on D.
-- [FOXSports.com]

From the "You Think?" Files

Headline in today's L.A. Times: "They've Got a Shot"
-- [LA Times reg. req'd]

Game 2 Blues

The Suns have not been good in Game 2's.
-- [Arizona Republic]

Item No. 4 on No. 31

ESPN.com's Marc Stein says Shawn Marion is playing less like Shawn and more like Marion Cunningham from Happy Days. (Though, I hear Mrs. C had a mean step back J.)
-- [ESPN.com, IMDB.com]

Marion (Shawn, not Mrs. C) also gets a digital noogie from Sports Illustrated.
-- [SI.com]

Sam Speaks (Again) ...

... you listen. Actually, Marty Burns said he had no choice but to listen. Sam wouldn't let Marty get a word in.
-- [SI.com]

Basically, Sam-I-Am thinks a two-year deal is fine:

"Three years? Nawww. Two is enough. That would be 15 years in my career. That's enough. I want to play at a high level, man. I don't want to be on the bench just collecting a check. I want to be in the lineup. To sit on the bench and collect a check, that's not me."

C&R: SUNS VS. CLIPS EDITION

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast
Posted by By Rob Peterson on May 10, 2006 2 p.m. ET

Let's face it: I loves me some points.

So, when the Suns "forced their will" on the Clippers in Game 1 to the tune of 130 points, with the Clippers pitching in 123 of their own, fans of offense rejoiced over the 253 combined points.
-- [NBA.com]

It turns out we found a group who doesn't love them some points. The Clippers. While L.A's best team had five guys average double figures in the regular season, the Clippers were just 6-22 when allowing opponents to score 100-plus points.
-- [NBA.com]

Also, they got a Game 1 loss with the following digits: Elton Brand drops 40, they score 123 and shoot .593 from the field.
-- [LA Times reg. req'd]

The Clippers need to slow the pace like the -- gulp! -- Lakers did through the first four games of their First Round series with the Suns or run the risk of being run out of the Playoffs.
-- [Arizona Republic]

Anyhoo, former NBA coach Don Casey says Game 2 is a must win for L.A.:

"I am surprised that the Clippers got into a shootout mentality with the Suns in Game 1; 253 points -- that’s a lot of points for a few shots (95 field goals made). The Suns’ 130 points on 47 field goals reveals easy and uncontested shots and a breakdown in the Clippers’ team defense. The Suns once again provided balanced scoring, six players in double figures, led by the Steve Nash’s 31 and 12 assists.

"If you’re the Clippers and you’re shooting 59 percent, you’re saying to yourself, I can stay with these guys. That’s a huge percentage. The problem for L.A. is that they didn’t close it out. Elton Brand was sensational. At the end of the third quarter, he already established Clipper postseason marks in points (34) and field goals (15).

"When you play the Suns, you get sucked in their uptempo style and the Clippers were sucked in. The threes (Suns’ 12 out of 27 attempts to the Clippers’ 4 of 12) were the difference. The strategy favors Phoenix unless you’re getting back on defense to contest shots. Otherwise, the Clippers can be in for a very short series.

"Game 2 is a must win for L.A. You always want to come out with one victory before you return home. The Clippers have got to demonstrate they can play with the Suns. They did until the 15-4 run by Phoenix in the fourth quarter that blew the game open. I think it would have been better for the Clippers if the Suns had been resting rather than the other way, to break their rhythm.

Thanks, Coach Casey and to the National Basketball Coaches Association, who provides us access to coach Casey and others.

Duh!

The Clippers need to play smarter. So says Corey Maggette.
-- [LA Daily News]

Sam Speaks ...

... you listen. (Or read. This is a blog, after all.)
-- [SI.com]

For Three!

Suns fans, enjoy. Clippers fans, torture yourselves.

Clipperblog.com tracked every single Suns trey in Game 1.
-- [Clipperblog.com]

There were a lot.

Déjà Vu

Hey, who's that small, quick two-time MVP running circles around the Clippers? Oh, right. He's the same dude that blistered the Lakers.
-- [LA Times reg. req'd]

Dunleavy: My Bad

Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said taking out Elton Brand at the 7:15 mark of the fourth quarter was a mistake.
-- [LA Times reg. req'd]

Play Brand 'til he pukes. It's the playoffs, after all.

Captain Ka-ve-man!

He's our Drive to the Finals Expert Pick to click today.
-- [NBA.com]

Game 7s bring out focus and greatness in true stars.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty)
QUICK QUOTE
Clippers center Chris Kaman on the biggest difference between the Clippers and the Lakers:

"We're more of a team."
-- [L.A. Daily News]

2005-06 ARCHIVE
May 5 -- The Wait Continues
April 28 -- One for the Little Guy
April 19 -- Still Mostly Cloudy
April 14 -- You Can Do Magic
April 6 -- Work to be Done
Mar. 31 -- Will Suns Rise?
Mar. 24 -- Artest Fit For A King
Mar. 17 -- Almost Doesn't Count
Mar. 10 -- A Magical Game
Mar. 3 -- Revenge of the Herds
Feb. 13 -- The Heat is On
Feb. 10 -- Left Out in the Cold
Feb. 3 -- We're Going Streaking!
Jan. 27 -- Trade Winds Blow
Jan. 23 -- Points a Plenty
Jan. 20 -- Give the King a Break
Jan. 13 -- Who's the Man?
Dec. 1 -- Welcome Back, Larry
Nov. 17 -- League Pass Surfing
Nov. 10 -- Setting OWGs Straight
Nov. 4 -- Season Underway
Oct. 27 -- The Central Is Stacked
Oct. 19 -- All Dressed Up
Oct. 14 -- LeBron Out Of Hospital
2004-05 -- Archive
2003-04 -- Archive