Speed of light: Clippers can't catch Suns in Game 7

Updated: May 23, 2006, 10:37 AM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN Insider

PHOENIX -- Among the points of emphasis written on the greaseboard in the Phoenix Suns' locker room prior to Game 7 was the simplest of messages, one that would eventually be proven to be so true as the evening unfolded.

"Speed: They have no answer," the message read.

Indeed the Clippers had no answer, but it only began with speed. They had no answer for the Suns' 3-point shooting, no answer for Phoenix' ball movement, no answer for any of the members of the shortened rotation of seven players that coach Mike D'Antoni has now used to knock off both teams from Los Angeles.

Speed is what suits the Suns, and when they're playing their speed game as they did Monday night and hitting on all cylinders, it's hard to find anybody who has an answer. The greatest individual player in the league couldn't beat them four times in the first round, and a team with a massive size advantage couldn't do it in the second round.

"If we're knocking down shots and running and put up at least 30 points each quarter, you'd better keep scoring. We may not stop you all the time, but if you have a lull at all, we just keep scoring," D'Antoni said.

That's the beauty of the brand of basketball the Suns play, and the Clippers certainly didn't have any answers in a 127-107 loss that ended their Cinderella season, not even with Elton Brand dominating the Suns' undersized front line for 36 points.

Phoenix made 15 3-pointers to the Clippers' zero, held Los Angeles to just seven second-chance points, shot an astounding 60 percent overall and had 32 assists on their 48 field goals while Los Angeles had just 11 on its 41 buckets.

The crowd rose in unison with 3:45 left to give the Suns a standing ovation, never having had a chance to grow worried over the course of a game that Phoenix dominated throughout. Any time the Clippers made something even remotely resembling a run, the Suns picked them apart with crisp ball movement and deadeye shooting. Shawn Marion had five 3s, Steve Nash had four, and Leandro Barbosa and Tim Thomas added two apiece.

"Knowing that when you start a 7-footer [Chris Kaman] whose footwork is not all that great, then you have Elton Brand whose footwork is pretty good, the most important thing is you just want to run 'em," Thomas said. "When you're constantly pushing the ball it puts a lot of pressure on you. And when we play small, bigs can't play this game. Our tempo has a lot to do with moving the ball but also with just pushing it right at them and making them make mistakes. And Steve is the best in the world at finding the open man, so with him having the ball, all you have to do is out yourself in an area where you're open."

The three days off between games clearly rejuvenated the Suns, who were already saying afterward how they expect to hear about their legions of doubters in the next round when they go up against Dallas. It'll be a rematch of the second-round series won by the Suns last season when Nash got revenge against the team that let him go

"Avery [Johnson] has instilled some discipline and has them playing great," Nash said. "We're not the deepest team or the biggest, but we have to be up there with the most resilient."

There are a pair of teams from Los Angeles that would have to agree.

Chris Sheridan, a national NBA reporter for the past 10 years, covers the league for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here.

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