Phoenix wins series 4-3 (Game 6 of 7)

Phoenix wins series 4-3

Game 1: Monday, May 8th
Game 2: Wednesday, May 10th
Game 3: Friday, May 12th
Game 4: Sunday, May 14th
Game 5: Tuesday, May 16th
Game 6: Thursday, May 18th
Game 7: Monday, May 22nd

Suns 106

(54-28, 23-18 away)

Clippers 118

(47-35, 27-14 home)

Coverage: FSPI

7:00 PM ET, May 18, 2006

STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

1 2 3 4 T
PHX 32 18 31 25106
LAC 31 31 26 30118

Top Performers

PHX: S. Marion 34 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 6 Stl, 1 Blk

LAC: E. Brand 30 Pts, 12 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 5 Blk

Clippers cool off Suns to force Game 7

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Elton Brand and the Clippers became the second team from Los Angeles to take the Phoenix Suns to the limit in these playoffs.

Unlike the Lakers, the Clippers will take some momentum into Game 7.

Brand had 30 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots, Corey Maggette came off the bench to score 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers beat the Suns 118-106 Thursday night to even the Western Conference semifinal series at three games apiece.

Elias Says
The Clippers shot 62 percent from the field in their 118-106 victory over the Suns in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinal series. It was the highest field-goal percentage in an NBA postseason game in 10 years, since the Spurs shot 62.2 percent in a first-round win against Phoenix (April 26, 1996).

• For more Elias Says, Click here

"After six games in the playoffs and four in the regular season, we know each other pretty well," Brand said. "It comes down to who plays the best in Game 7."

The Suns seemed a step slower than usual at times, understandable since they've played every other day since April 26 -- a total of 12 games in 22 days.

"I'll definitely give them credit for a terrific game," Suns star Steve Nash said. "It just didn't seem like we had a lot of pop tonight."

The Suns will get some time off now, since Game 7 isn't until Monday night in Phoenix, where they beat the Clippers in two of the three previous playoff meetings, including a 125-118 double-overtime triumph in Game 5.

The Clippers sounded like they can use the time off, too. Neither team will practice Friday.

"Sam Cassell's legs are tired, and he's 58, so I think the days off will help him," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said with a smile.

Cassell, actually 36, said he could have used some extra time off after extending himself in Tuesday night's double-overtime game.

"It took its toll on me," Cassell said after getting 15 points and eight assists but committing six of his team's 19 turnovers.

"I want the championship for us. My crew is ready," he said. "You have to take advantage of these opportunities because you never know when they're going to come back."

The teams have alternated victories in the series, with the Suns winning Games 1, 3 and 5 and the Clippers winning Games 2, 4 and 6.

The Lakers took a 3-1 lead in the first round before the Suns came back, becoming the eighth NBA team to overcome such a deficit.

The home team has a 76-17 advantage in NBA playoff Game 7s, including Phoenix's 121-90 victory over the Lakers on May 6. But the Clippers played the Suns tough in all three postseason games in Phoenix, winning one and coming close in the other two.

"We have no road fear at all," Dunleavy said. "We feel we can play with anybody."

The Suns are trying to reach the Western Conference finals for the second straight season and the eighth time overall. They lost to the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in five games in the conference finals last spring.

The Clippers have won two playoff series in their history, and are looking to make it past the second round for the first time.

Quinton Ross, starting in place of Maggette, added a career-high 18 points and Chris Kaman had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who shot 61.5 percent and outrebounded the Suns 48-28.

"We just couldn't stop them," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I don't know if it's energy, but they played well. Give them credit, they played a good game. We got ourselves in trouble because we didn't make shots.

"You play all year to get home-court advantage, and we're at home in Phoenix."

Shawn Marion had 34 points, nine rebounds and six steals to lead the Suns, who shot 44 percent. Leonardo Barbosa added 25 points, Nash had 17 points and 11 assists, Boris Diaw had 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and Raja Bell scored 13.

"We have to figure out something by Monday," Barbosa said. "If we don't, we're done."

Bell, who averaged 22.2 points and shot 55.6 percent in the first five games of this series, shot 2-of-9 in this game. And Tim Thomas, a big factor for the Suns throughout the playoffs, was held to three points.

Maggette scored 10 points, including the Clippers' only two 3-pointers of the game during a 17-7 run to begin the fourth quarter, giving the Clippers a 105-88 lead.

"I felt some of their guys were tired," Maggette said. "I just tried to attack."

The Clippers scored six straight points for a 16-point lead late in the third quarter -- the largest of the game to that point. It was 86-70 when Barbosa made two 3-pointers and Marion another in a 70-second span to draw the Suns within seven. But that's as close as the Suns would get in the second half.

Ross scored 16 points in the first half -- one more than his previous career high in two seasons plus these playoffs.

Game notes

The Suns have played 10 games in Staples Center this season -- two against the Lakers and Clippers in the regular season, and three against each team in the playoffs. They had a 4-6 record. ... Elgin Baylor, the Clippers' vice president of basketball operations since 1986, was presented with the Sporting News NBA Executive of the Year award before the game. ... Nash made a 3-pointer late in the first quarter to snap an 0-for-14 drought from beyond the arc. He hadn't made one since Game 1 of this series. ... The Suns and Clippers are the highest-scoring teams during the postseason, with both averaging over 105 points. ... Marion scored over 30 points only once in the first 43 playoff games of his career -- a career-high 38 at Dallas last May. He has scored at least 30 in three of his last four games. ... The Suns are the first team to go seven games in each of the first two rounds since Dallas did so in 2003.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 106 118
FGM-FGA 38-87 (.437) 48-78 (.615)
3PM-3PA 13-31 (.419) 2-5 (.400)
FTM-FTA 17-23 (.739) 20-23 (.870)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-28 7-48
Assists 26 28
Turnovers 10 19
Steals 10 1
Blocks 2 8
Fast Break Points 17 10
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 22 (0/0)
Largest Lead 5 17

Top Performers

Los Angeles
Shawn Marion Marion
Points: 34
Reb: 9
Ast: 1
Stl: 6
Blk: 1
Elton Brand Brand
Points: 30
Reb: 12
Ast: 3
Stl: 1
Blk: 5