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Brown scores 21 as short-handed Suns beat Clippers
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Shannon Brown scored a season-high 21 points, including four free throws in the final 1:33, and the short-handed Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 91-87 on Thursday night to end a four-game road losing streak.
With his team playing the middle game in a stretch of three in three nights, Suns coach Alvin Gentry had Steve Nash and Grant Hill both sit out in street clothes. Last month, when the 38-year-old Nash and the 39-year-old Hill sat out, they watched their teammates lose 109-92 at Denver.
Channing Frye had 12 points for Phoenix and Jared Dudley added 11 points and six rebounds. Sebastian Telfair, filling in for Nash at point guard, had seven points, eight assists and a critical steal of Chris Paul in the final seconds in his first start since Nov. 22, 2010, with Minnesota.
Blake Griffin had 25 points and eight rebounds for the Clippers, who fell 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Lakers in the Pacific Division race. Paul had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Trailing by 12 early in the fourth, the stubborn Suns went on a 10-2 run and closed to 78-76 with 6:57 to play. Reserve guard Ronnie Price hit a driving layup and followed that with a breakaway layup off his steal of Mo Williams to cap the rally.
Dudley's two free throws tied the score 84-all with 2:56 remaining, and Brown put Phoenix ahead 87-85 on a 3-pointer with 2:25 to go - the Suns' first lead since early in the first quarter. After DeAndre Jordan tied it with two foul shots, Brown gave the Suns the lead for good with two at the other end.
Dudley missed a 3-pointer that would have sealed the win, but Telfair stole the ball from Paul near the Clippers' basket, and Brown closed it out with two more free throws. Los Angeles did not get a field goal after Griffin's 16-footer with 4:37 remaining.
Playing on the road for only the second time in 12 games, the Suns made only six of 23 shots in the first quarter and fell behind 29-17. The Clippers' frontcourt of Griffin, Jordan and Caron Butler outscored their Phoenix counterparts - Dudley, Frye and Marcin Gortat - by a 21-3 margin during the quarter and 50-31 altogether.
The Clippers extended a seven-point lead to 47-30 with a 10-2 run capped by Jordan's alley-oop dunk off a lob from Paul with 2:32 left in the second quarter, but the Suns responded by scoring the final nine points of the half - including Frye's first 3-pointer of the game.
Griffin got a technical foul from referee Gary Zielinski with 8:45 left in the third quarter for complaining about an offensive foul and a subsequent delay-of-game call against him after Phoenix closed to 52-44 on Brown's 20-foot jumper.
NOTES: Former USC point guard G Nick Young, whom the Clippers obtained from Washington in a three-way deal with Denver just before Wednesday's trade deadline, was interviewed during the team's TV pregame show on a remote feed from New Orleans - where the Wizards were playing. "It is a great fit," Young said. "I find myself growing there. They have great players on the team, and I can learn from each one of them. It's a great feeling to have a team like the Clippers behind you, and knowing that a team vying for a championship wants you. You want to play for your hometown team. My mom knew before I knew, and she called me screaming." ... The last time Young played against the Clippers, on Feb. 15, he missed his first nine shots and finished 5 for 18 with 14 points. ... Gentry's first game as Suns head coach after replacing Terry Porter in February 2009 was a 40-point win over the Clippers - the team Gentry had coached from 2000 through 2003. That was the largest margin of victory in a team's first game following a coaching change until Wednesday night, when the New York Knicks beat Portland by 42 in Mike Woodson's first game as head coach following Mike D'Antoni's abrupt resignation.
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